Ron Zook Finalists For Eddie Robinson Award

Ron Zook

DALLAS (FWAA) - The Football Writers Association of America has announced eight finalists for the 2007 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to be voted upon by the entire membership.

With the 2007 regular season completed, the FWAA, in conjunction with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, has tabbed the following finalists: Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer, Air Force's Troy Calhoun, Arizona State's Dennis Erickson, Hawaii's June Jones, Kansas' Mark Mangino, Missouri's Gary Pinkel, Ohio State's Jim Tressel and Illinois' Ron Zook.

The finalists will be placed on a ballot which will be sent out to the entire FWAA membership. FWAA members will be asked to vote for their top three choices.

The FWAA coaching award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 years. He has more Division I victories (408) than any other coach.

The winner of the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award will be announced and honored at a reception on Jan. 4 in New Orleans in conjunction with the BCS Championship Game.

Beamer's Virginia Tech team lost an early-season showdown to LSU, 48-7, and then dropped a heart-breaker to Boston College, 14-10, in the final minutes in Blacksburg. But the Hokies bounced back to beat BC in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game and finish the regular season with an 11-2 record. Calhoun, a first-year head coach, directed the Falcons to a 9-3 record. It was the biggest turnaround in the country by any first-year coach from the 2006 season. Air Force was 4-8 in 2006.

Erickson, in his first season at Arizona State, posted 10 victories with the Sun Devils. Arizona State will face Texas in the Holiday Bowl. Arizona State lost only to USC and Oregon during the regular season.

Jones led Hawaii to the school's first outright Western Athletic Conference title and the only unbeaten record in Division I Bowl Subdivision in 2007. Hawaii will face Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Mangino led Kansas to 11 straight victories before losing to Missouri. The Jayhawks finished with a 6-6 record the previous season and did not go to a bowl game. The Jayhawks have won more games in a season than any time in their history and will play in the Orange Bowl.

Pinkel led Missouri to its first No. 1 ranking nationally in 47 years and the most victories in school history (11). The Tigers won their first Big 12 North Division title and are playing in their first New Year's Day Bowl Game (Cotton) since 1969.

Tressel led the Buckeyes to a third straight Big Ten title, the Buckeyes' fourth in six years. The 11-1 Ohio State team will face LSU in the BCS Title game on Jan. 7.

Zook turned around the Illini from a 2-10 record in 2006 to 9-3 in 2007. It is the biggest turnaround in college football this season. Included in the victories was an upset of top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus.

Of the candidates, Tressel and Beamer are the only previous winners. Tressel won the Eddie in 2002, the same season his Buckeyes claimed the FWAA's Grantland Rice Trophy, symbolic of the national championship. Beamer won the award in 1999, the same season his Hokies lost to Florida State in the national title game.

The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization founded in 1941, consists of more nearly 1,000 men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards, a national poll and its annual All-America team.

U of I press release.

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