Tennessee HC Josh Heupel. Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.
The eight finalists for the 2022 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award were announced on Tuesday.
To the surprise of many, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel was not on the list of finalists, despite being named the AP SEC Coach of the Year on Monday.
The eight finalists are as follows:
Sonny Dykes – TCU (12-1)
Jim Harbaugh – Michigan (13-0)
Kirby Smart – Georgia (13-0)
Mike Elko – Duke (8-4)
Willie Fritz – Tulane (11-2)
Lincoln Riley – Southern California (11-2)
Jon Sumrall – Troy (11-2)
Jeff Traylor – UT San Antonio (11-2)
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It makes sense to have a wide range of coaches on the finalists’ list. It makes sense to have three College Football Playoff coaches and some Group of Five coaches as well. But to not have Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel? Seems a bit of a stretch.
Heupel led Tennessee to a 10-2 record on the season in his second year in Knoxville. Josh Heupel also achieved Tennessee’s first 10-win season since 2006. Clearly, in the minds of the AP members, that was enough to have him listed as the SEC Coach of the Year.
That wasn’t enough for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year committee, though.
This is also the second instance in 48 hours that a Tennessee figure has been given an SEC “of-the-year” award only to immediately be snubbed from the national awards.
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year but didn’t receive an invitation to the 2022 Heisman Trophy ceremony. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett did.
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel was named the SEC Coach of the Year but wasn’t one of the eight finalists for the national coach of the year award. Yet Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was.
That’s not trying to specifically knock Georgia, who had an undefeated season and defeated Tennessee. That’s that and that happened. But it is obviously showing the discrepancy in how Tennessee’s figures are viewed within the conference and around the nation. To not even receive finalist nominations is truly head-scratching.
Josh Heupel was named the co-First Year Head Coach of the Year after the 2021 season. South Carolina’s Shane Beamer also shared that award with Heupel.
Finalists for the 2022 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award
Sonny Dykes, TCU
Mike Elko, Duke
Willie Fritz, Tulane
Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
Lincoln Riley, USC
Kirby Smart, Georgia
Jon Sumrall, Troy
Jeff Traylor, UTSA
— Chris Vannini (@ChrisVannini) December 6, 2022