Already the only two-time winner of the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly earned the honor for a third time Wednesday after leading the Irish to a 12-0 record and their first berth in the College Football Playoff.
Kelly previously won the award, voted on by ABC/ESPN college football analysts, in 2009 at Cincinnati and 2012 at Notre Dame. It will be presented to him Thursday night during the College Football Awards show on ESPN.
Also Wednesday, Kelly and Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald were named among seven finalists for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. The others were Syracuse’s Dino Babers, Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley, Alabama’s Nick Saban, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.
Riley, Saban and Swinney will coach in the CFP along with Kelly. Fitzgerald led the Wildcats to their first Big Ten West title and a spot in the conference championship game.
First handed out in 1976, the Dodd award will be announced during halftime of the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 in Atlanta.