NORMAN – University of Oklahoma football head coach Lincoln Riley has been named a finalist for two national coach of the year awards – the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award and the Dodd Trophy, it was announced Wednesday.
For the second straight season, Riley is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He is one of eight finalists this year, joined by Bill Clark (UAB), Josh Heupel (UCF), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Jeff Monken (Army), Nick Saban (Alabama), Dabo Swinney (Clemson) and Jeff Tedford (Fresno State).
Riley is one of seven finalists for the Dodd Trophy, presented by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. He is joined by Dino Babers (Syracuse), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Brian Kelly (Notre Dame), Nick Saban (Alabam), Kirby Smart (Georgia) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson). Winners of the award from the previous two years and first-year coaches at an institution are not eligible to be finalists.
In his second season as head coach, Riley has led the Sooners to a 12-1 record, a fourth straight Big 12 championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff for the third time in four years. He has set a program record with 24 wins in his first two seasons, surpassing the previous standard of 21 wins by Barry Switzer in 1973 and ’74. Riley is just the fifth Division I/FBS head coach to win at least 24 games in his first two seasons, matching Larry Coker of Miami (2001-02) and Mark Helfrich of Oregon (2013-14), and trailing only Walter Camp of Yale (28 wins from 1888-89) and George Woodruff of Penn (27 wins from 1892-93).
With Riley as OU’s offensive play caller, the Sooners lead the nation in total offense (577.9 yards per game), scoring offense (49.5 points per game) and passing efficiency rating (200.58). They are the only team in the country this season with at least 40 rushing touchdowns (40) and at least 40 passing TDs (41).
Riley has guided Oklahoma to a historic offensive pace. OU is averaging 8.7 yards per play this year, a figure that would break the FBS single-season record of 8.6 by Hawaii in 2006. The next highest average this season is 7.9 by Alabama, and the third highest is 7.4 by Clemson. OU also leads the nation with its 11.6 yards per pass attempt, and ranks second by averaging 6.7 yards per rush. No FBS team since 1994 has finished in the top two nationally in both categories in the same year.
Oklahoma leads the country in points and yards per game this season despite being ranked 107th out of 130 teams in plays per game (just 66.1). OU is also averaging 0.71 points per offensive play. Going back to 1996, the highest end-of-season figure was 0.69 by 2013 national champion Florida State. Five times already this season the Sooners have recorded at least 300 rushing and at least 300 passing yards in a game. The feat had only been accomplished six times in program history entering the year.
The Eddie Robinson Award winner will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 13. The official presentation reception will be on Jan. 5, 2019, in San Jose, Calif., where the winning coach will be handed the FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year bust during a reception in conjunction with the College Football Playoff National Championship. The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season. The FWAA coaching award is named after the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.
Finalists for the Dodd Trophy were selected by a panel consisting of all previous winners, national media, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member. The winner of the 2018 Dodd Trophy will be selected from the list of finalists by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation, and will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Week.