The Football Writers Association of America named the finalists for the Steve Spurrier First Year Coach Award, and 2 of them are from the SEC.

Gus Malzahn (UCF), Josh Heupel (Tennessee) and Shane Beamer (South Carolina) were named finalists for the award, which is given to the best coach in his year at the school.

“I’m excited to honor my former coach (Spurrier) with the naming of the First Year Coach Award,” said Chris Doering, former college and NFL player and current football analyst for SEC Network. “It means a lot to me knowing how passionate he is about this award and what it stands for. In most cases as a first year coach, you’re basically being asked to turn around a program with a largely inherited roster. Coach Spurrier took great pride in each of his first year head coaching opportunities with an innate ability to get those around him to buy into the culture and what they’re being asked to do. I think it speaks to the essence of what a good coach is.”

Beamer turned around the Gamecocks from 2-8 in 2020 to 6-6 in 2021 with 3 different quarterbacks. Heupel led the Vols to a 7-5 season in 2021 after finishing 3-7 in 2020.

Malzahn, of course, helped UCF to a 9-4 season after defeating Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl. The Knights finished 6-4 in 2020.