DALLAS / WACO, Texas – Baylor head football coach Dave Aranda has been named a finalist for the 2021 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award.

This was announced Tuesday by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), in conjunction with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

A record 13 finalists were named candidates for the 2021 award. The FWAA has given out the honor each year since 1957, recognizing the top coach in college football. The award was renamed in 1997 to honor the legacy of legendary Grambling State head coach Eddie Robinson.

Aranda is fresh off winning the 2021 Big 12 Championship, leading the Bears to an 11-2 season and a berth in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in his second year in Waco. Despite being picked to finish eighth in the conference in the preseason media poll, Aranda tied for the nation’s second-best turnaround with nine more wins following last season’s 2-7 mark. The Bears currently sit sixth in the AP poll and were ranked seventh in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

Behind the guidance of Aranda and first-year offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, Baylor’s offense ranked 16th nationally with 5.26 yards per rush and 29th in the country with 6.37 yards per play. BU increased its rushing production by 138% from last season, raising its rushing average from 90.3 yards per game (123rd nationally) to 214.7 yards per game (17th nationally). Additionally, Baylor ranked inside the nation’s top-25 in fewest sacks allowed with 18 and turnover margin at +18, in addition to ranking 26th in pass efficiency (152.33) and 37th in scoring (32.5 ppg).

Defensively, BU held opponents to 13.1 points below their season average and was one of three programs to limit every opponent to 30 or fewer points, joining Cincinnati and Clemson. Under Aranda and defensive coordinator Ron Roberts, Baylor led the Big 12 and ranked fifth nationally with 16 interceptions. The Bears placed 14th in the country in scoring defense and 16th in rushing defense, holding opponents to just 19.2 points and 116.9 rushing yards per game in 2021.

Baylor had seven players named to the 2021 All-Big 12 first- and second-teams, including four individual award winners in Jalen Pitre (Defensive Player of the Year), Trestan Ebner (Special Teams Player of the Year), Connor Galvin (Offensive Lineman of the Year) and Siaki Ika (Defensive Newcomer of the Year). Additionally, Pitre was one of three finalists for the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award, honoring the nation’s top defensive back.

Aranda becomes Baylor’s second finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award in the last three seasons. Legendary head coach Grant Teaff is the school’s only previous winner in 1974.

This year’s finalists have been placed on a ballot which has been sent to the entire FWAA membership. The 2021 winner will be announced on Monday, Dec. 20. The official award presentation will be at a reception on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, in Indianapolis prior to the College Football Playoff National Championship.

2021 EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD FINALISTS

  • Blake Anderson, Utah State
  • Dave Aranda, Baylor
  • Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
  • Thomas Hammock, Northern Illinois
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Billy Napier, Louisiana
  • Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • Kalani Sitake, BYU
  • Kirby Smart, Georgia
  • Jeff Traylor, UTSA
  • Mel Tucker, Michigan State
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Source: Baylor Athletics