Alabama Football: Nick Saban and one other SEC coach on Dodd Award Watch List

Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The preseason Dodd Trophy Watch List includes Alabama football coach Nick Saban. The SEC is not heavily represented with only one other SEC head coach on the 2023 Watch List.

The award is named for Georgia Tech legend, Bobby Dodd. Dodd coached the Yellow Jackets for 22 seasons, from 1945 through 1966. Dodd and Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant went head-to-head seven times with the Crimson Tide losing just once, by a single point.

The Dodd Trophy was created in 1976 by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation. The award is managed by Peach Bowl Inc., which states each winner,

"enjoys success on the gridiron, while also stressing the importance of scholarship, leadership and integrity – the three pillars of legendary coach Bobby Dodd’s coaching philosophy."

Coaches in their first head coaching season with a program are not eligible. In order to be considered each coach’s team must have an Academic Progress Rate score of 980 or higher.

The 2023 preseason Watch List includes 21 coaches, five of whom, plus Nick Saban, are previous winners. Saban won the award in 2014. The most recent winners are Tulane’s Willie Fritz in 2022 and Cincinnati’s Luke Fickel in 2021.

Fifteen of the 21 head coaches on the watch list come, in equal numbers, from the Big Ten, the ACC and the Big 12. The SEC is represented by only two coaches; Nick Saban and Mark Stoops of Kentucky. The remaining four spots, with one each, are from the Pac-12, AAC and Mountain West, plus Marcus Freeman of Notre Dame.

Going back to the award’s start in 1976, 11 ACC coaches have won the Dodd Trophy. Eight Big Ten coaches have won, including Penn State’s Joe Paterno who won twice. If 1978 Big 8 member, Nebraska is counted, six Big 12 (including Tom Osborne in 1978) coaches have won, with Kansas State’s Bill Synder having won twice.

Alabama Football Oddity

The Pac-12 and the SEC have had four winners each. Alabama is the only SEC school to have two winners. The two Alabama Crimson Tide winners are Bill Curry in 1989 and Nick Saban in 2014. An oddity is one of the Pac-12 winners later became an Alabama football head coach, but Mike Price never coached a game for the Crimson Tide. Former Alabama football student manager, David Cutcliffe also won the Dodd Trophy in 2013, as Duke’s coach.

2023 Preseason Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Dave Aranda – Baylor
  • Andy Avalos – Boise State
  • Mack Brown – North Carolina; Brown won the award in 2008
  • Dave Clawson – Wake Forest
  • Ryan Day – Ohio State
  • Dave Doeren – North Carolina State
  • Kirk Ferentz – Iowa; Ferentz won in 2015
  • P.J. Fleck – Minnesota
  • Marcus Freeman – Notre Dame
  • Willie Fritz – Tulane; Fritz won in 2022
  • Jim Harbaugh – Michigan
  • Gus Malzahn – UCF
  • Joey McGuire – Texas Tech
  • Mike Norvell – Florida State
  • Sam Pittman – Arkansas
  • Nick Saban – Alabama; Saban won im 2014
  • Steve Sarkisian – Texas
  • Dabo Swinney – Clemson; Dabo won in 2011
  • Mel Tucker – Michigan State
  • Brent Venables – Oklahoma
  • Kyle Whittingham – Utah; Whittingham won in 2019

A midseason update will amend the list with possible additions and deletions.

Next. All-Time Crimson Tide Rushers. dark

Bobby Dodd’s teams won over 71% of their games. Some college football historians note Dodd took a different approach to practices and offseasons to avoid overworking his players. In his era, few other coaches agreed.