USC coach Clay Helton is among the nine finalists for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, which will be presented Wednesday night in Houston.
Helton guided the Trojans to victories over teams coached by two of the other finalists — James Franklin of Penn State and Mike MacIntyre of Colorado.
The other finalists include Dabo Swinney, who coached Clemson to the national championship and won the award last year; and Nick Saban, whose Alabama team was ranked first in each Associated Press poll of the season until its 35-31 loss to the Tigers Monday in the College Football Playoff.
The award is the only coaching award given after all the bowl games are played. It is voted on by the National Sports Media Association. It has been presented annually since 1986. No USC coach has won the award.
Helton coached the Trojans to their first Rose Bowl Game appearance and victory since 2009, defeating Penn State, 52-49, on Jan. 2 in the largest comeback in the game’s history, overcoming a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
USC won its final nine games after a 1-3 start for a 10-3 record, its first 10-victory season since 2013.
—City News Service
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