It’s only fitting that the two coaches who faced off in what was perhaps the best game this season are in contention for the 2018 Dodd Trophy.
Alabama’s Nick Saban and Georgia’s Kirby Smart are among the seven finalists for the annual award recognizing the national coach of the year, it was announced Wednesday. They joined Syracuse’s Dino Babers, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney as finalists.
According to the press release announcing the finalists, officials from the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl aim to honor coaches “who embody the award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity, both on and off the field.”
Saban and Smart matched wits in last Saturday’s SEC Championship Game, in which the top-ranked Crimson Tide rallied to defeat the No. 5 Bulldogs 35-28 and cost them a spot in the College Football Playoff. Alabama remained undefeated with the win, while Georgia experienced just its second loss of the year and finished as the highest-ranked team outside the Playoff.
The winner of the 2018 Dodd Trophy will be revealed during the week of the Peach Bowl, which kicks off Dec. 29. Saban won the accolade in 2014, and Smart was a finalist last year.