Three Big Ten coaches named finalists for award

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Penn State's Joe Paterno, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Ohio State's Jim Tressel are among the 10 finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.

Voting for the award will take place Dec. 12-22, with the winner being announced Dec. 31 during halftime of the Music City Bowl. Fans can cast their votes here, and votes from College Football Hall of Fame members and national media also will be included in the selection process.

The 10 finalists are:

  • Mack Brown, Texas

  • Brady Hoke, Ball State

  • Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern

  • Urban Meyer, Florida

  • Joe Paterno, Penn State

  • Chris Petersen, Boise State

  • Nick Saban, Alabama

  • Bob Stoops, Oklahoma

  • Jim Tressel, Ohio State

  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

Paterno, named Big Ten Coach of the Year last month, guided Penn State to an 11-1 record, a share of the league title and a Rose Bowl appearance. Fitzgerald led an underrated Northwestern team to a 9-3 mark and an Alamo Bowl appearance. Tressel helped Ohio State to a share of the Big Ten title and a BCS bowl appearance for the fourth consecutive season.

My vote goes to Saban, though there are strong arguments for Brown and the three non-BCS coaches (Whittingham, Petersen and Hoke). Paterno and Fitzgerald certainly deserve to be on the list, but I'm a little surprised about Tressel. Though he did a good job transitioning Terrelle Pryor and helping Ohio State bounce back from the USC disaster, the Buckeyes were a preseason national title contender and finished 10-2. Most Ohio State fans were somewhat disappointed with this season.