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Ahead of the Curve

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Ahead of the Curve is a syndicated football column by Frank Coyle that covers NFL and College football year round. It appears in different national publications and on web sites throughout the season and postseason each year.

NFL Power Rankings Week 6 - Saints at Patriots Clash

NFL Power Rankings – 2013 Season
Rankings - Week 6

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints -

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Andrew Luck - Colts
Defensive Player of the Week - LB Clay Matthews - Packers
Offensive Rookie of the Week - QB Geno Smith - Jets
Defensive Rookie of the Week - CB D.J. Hayden - Raiders

Team of Week 5 - Colts -
Matchup of Week 6 - Saints at Patriots -

Rank / Team / Record

1. Denver Broncos (5-0)
Broncos riding Peyton Manning’s hot season.

2. New Orleans Saints (5-0)
Saints go to New England for classic Brees vs Brady matchup.

3. New England Patriots (4-1)
Patriots get Saints at home this Sunday.

4. Seattle Seahawks (4-1)
The Seahawks came up short vs the Colts.

5. Kansas City Chiefs (5-0)
The hot Chiefs get the hated Raiders at home this week.

6. Baltimore Ravens (3-2)
The Ravens’ face a pivotal home game with Packers coming to town this Sunday.

7. Indianapolis Colts (3-2)
Colts travel to San Diego for Monday nite clash and look to establish themselves as one of the emerging teams in the league.

8. Cincinnati Bengals (3-2)
The Bengals won a huge game vs Patriots to stay in the hunt in the AFC North.

9. Detroit Lions (3-2)
Lions were whipped by the Packers last week.

10. San Francisco 49ers (3-2)
The 49ers flashed their muscle with beating of the Texans.

11. Chicago Bears (3-2)
The Bears get GMen at home tonight after two losses in a pivotal NFC contest.

12. Houston Texans (2-3)
Texans keep coming up short in big games.

13. Green Bay Packers (2-2)
Packers’ coming off big win over the Lions, but face champion Ravens on the road this week.

14. Miami Dolphins (3-2)
The Dolphins are off this week and regroup for second half run at playoffs.

15. Arizona Cardinals (3-2)
Cards face critical NFC West matchup with visit to San Fran this week.

16. Tennessee Titans (3-2)
The Titans goes to Seattle for a key matchup for their playoff hopes.

17. Cleveland Browns (3-2)
The Browns have won a few key games and get the Lions at home this Sunday.

18. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Skins go to Big D this week where Cowboys still head the weak NFC East.

19. New York Jets (3-2)
The Jets have surprised and get faltering Steelers at home in a key matchup for their playoff hopes.

20. San Diego Chargers (2-3)
Chargers face a critical AFC matchup vs Colts at home this week.

21. Atlanta Falcons (1-4)
Falcons get a bye week to regroup and hope to salvage a disastrous start.

22. Buffalo Bills (2-2)
The Bills have had 10 days to get ready for the Bengals this week.

23. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3)
Eagles go to Tampa to face the winless Bucs.

24. St. Louis Rams (2-3)
The Rams get the Jaguars at home this week and need a W big time.

25. New York Giants (0-5)
The GMen are still only two games out of first place.

26. Oakland Raiders (2-3
The Raiders face two critical AFC West matchups vs Chargers and Chiefs over next two weeks.

27. Washington Redskins (1-3)
The Skins came back vs the Raiders for first victory and go into their bye week prior to facing key midseason matchups.

28. Minnesota Vikings (1-3)
Vikings get a winnable game at home vs Panthers this week.

29. Carolina Panthers (1-3)
Panthers coming off a wippin by the Cards and might to regroup to get into contention.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-4)
Steelers are coming off their bye week and face the surprising Jets this week.

31. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-4)
Bucs are a mess and go with rookie QB Mike Glennon the rest of the way.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5)
No rest for the weary - Jags go into Denver this week.

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NFL Power Rankings - Seahawks Earn Top Spot

NFL Power Rankings – 2013 Season
NFL Power Rankings - Week 4

Photo - QB Drew Brees - Saints -

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Peyton Manning - Broncos
Defensive Player of the Year - DE Greg Hardy - Panthers
Offensive Rookie of the Week - RB Giovani Bernard - Bengals
Defensive Rookie of the Year - DE Ziggy’ Ansah - Lions

Team of the Week - Bengals -

Rank / Team / Record

1. Seattle Seahawks (3-0)
The Seahawks face a major road test at Houston this week that could be a pivotal contest for both conference playoff races.

2. Denver Broncos (3-0)
Peyton Manning is in a total zone that can take this club far this season.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-0)
It’s a new season in the Big Easy.

4. New England Patriots (3-0)
Tom Brady vs Matt Ryan in a great Sunday night QB matchup.

5. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
The Ravens’ took it to the Texans and are still a club to deal with in big games.

6. Houston Texans (2-1)
Texans face a major test at home with the Seahawks coming to town.

7. Cincinnati Bengals (2-1)
The Bengals came back and beat the Packers at home that could be their turning point for this young club.

8. Miami Dolphins (3-0)
The Dolphins are hungry and look to press the Patriots for the AFC East title.

9. Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
The Chiefs young defense gives club one of the best units in the AFC and an emerging contender.

10. San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
The 49ers are struggling and face the Rams who they did not beat last season.

11. Chicago Bears (3-0)
The Bears are off to a fast start and now face a huge road game vs divisional rival Detroit.

12. Detroit Lions (2-1)
Lions get the Bears at home this week that may be the pivotal game on their entire season.

13. Indianapolis Colts (2-1)
Colts go to Jacksonville this week and look to take command of the AFC South.

14. Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Cowboys are the only NFC East club that has not imploded in the first month.

15. Atlanta Falcons (1-2)
Falcons failed to hold lead vs Dolphins and have Patriots coming to town this week,

16. Green Bay Packers (1-2)
Packers’ are mediocre on both sides of the ball and welcome their bye week to regroup.

17. Tennessee Titans (2-1)
The Titans get the Jets this week before starting a tough month vs playoff clubs.

18. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Eagles have been very inconsistent and go to Denver to face the hot Broncos.

19. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Chargers need a win at home vs the Cowboys to stay in the hunt in the improved AFC West.

20. New York Giants (0-3)
The GMen did not show up in shutout loss to the Panthers and face a difficult road game in KC this week.

21. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Cards need a win in Tampa to stay in the hunt in the NFC West.

22. St. Louis Rams (1-2)
The Rams get the 49ers on Thursday night and need to show they stay in the NFC West race.

23. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
The Browns are loading the cannon for the NFL Draft 2014 after the trade of Trent Richardson for another #1 pick.

24. New York Jets (2-1)
The Jets face a key AFC East contest with the Bills that may be a pivotal game for young offense.

25 Washington Redskins (0-3)
The Skins look terrible with no spark and allowing 2nd most points in the league.

26. Minnesota Vikings (0-3)
Vikings face Steelers in London in a battle of winless clubs.

27. Buffalo Bills (1-2)
The Bills keep coming up short and face the Ravens this week.

28. Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Panthers looked like world beaters vs the Giants last week.

29. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-3)
Steelers look older with every game over past two seasons.

30. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-3)
Bucs might make major changes at QB if Josh Freeman continues to struggle.

31. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
The Raiders face a critical home matchup vs winless Washington this weekend.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
Jaguars are much worst than their record.

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NFL Power Rankings – Week 3 - Texans on Top

NFL Power Rankings - 2013 Season
NFL Power Rankings - Week 3 - Frank Coyle

Photo - QB Peyton Manning - Broncos

Offensive Player of the Week - QB Peyton Manning - Broncos
Defensive Player of the Year - DE Osi Umenyiora - Falcons
Offensive Rookie of the Week - QB E.J. Manuel - Bills
Defensive Rookie of the Year - LB - Kinko Alonso - Bills

Rank / Team / Record

1. Houston Texans (2-0)
Texans look focused this year and have a mature group overall.

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
The Seahawks are off to a fast start on defense, but may have some key offensive limitations.

3. Denver Broncos (2-0)
Peyton Manning has this offense cranking that may minimize critical defensive shortcomings over the season.

4. New Orleans Saints (2-0)
The Saints are looking for revenge this season and should outclass the NFC South.

5. New England Patriots (2-0)
The Brady Bunch will probably walk in this weak East division.

6. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
The Bengals are ready to take command of the AFC North this fall.

7. San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
The 49ers can play with anyone when they are right.

8. Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Falcons need their rebuilt defense to make a difference weekly.

9. Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
The Ravens’ offense is off to a slow start and have a banged up Ray Rice.

10. Green Bay Packers (1-1)
Packers’ triggerman Aaron Rodgers will have to win shootouts with this marginal defense.

11. Miami Dolphins (2-0)
The Dolphins are hungry and look to press the Patriots for the AFC East title.

12. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
The Chiefs young defense gives club one of the best units in the AFC and an emerging contender.

13. Chicago Bears (2-0)
The Bears are off to a quick start and now go on the road for key games at Pittsburgh and Detroit.

14. Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
Colts hope the addition of Trent Richardson gives this attack a punch.

15. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Cowboys continue to look mediocre overall and average on defense.

16. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Eagles face a critical matchup with the Chiefs this week.

17. New York Giants (0-2)
The Giants gave two games away and need to regroup quickly to get into contention.

18. San Diego Chargers (1-1)
Chargers are hoping to surprise in the wideopen AFC West.

19 Washington Redskins (0-2)
Hold those RG3 Hall of Fame nominations. The Skins look terrible.

20. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Cards face a pivotal contest with the Saints in the Big Easy.

21. Detroit Lions (1-1)
Lions may be the class of the NFC North, but they must stay healthy and play better defense.

22. Tennessee Titans (1-1)
The Titans need QB Jake Locker to step up to compete in the average AFC South.

23. St. Louis Rams (1-1)
The Rams are still trying to claim an identity under Jeff Fisher.

24. Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Vikings are still inconsistent and may struggle to compete for contention.

25. Buffalo Bills (1-1)
The Bills are starting another rebuilding process this season.

26. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
Steelers will struggle to approach a .500 record this season.

27. Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Panthers may not be able to take advantage of a weak schedule.

28. Tampa Bay Bucs (0-2)
It could get ugly in Tampa this season with a possible big turnover when complete.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-2)
The Browns are loading the cannon for the NFL Draft 2014 after the trade of Trent Richardson for another #1 pick.

30. New York Jets (1-1)
The Jets face a key AFC East contest with the Bills that may be a pivotal game for young offense.

31. Oakland Raiders (1-1)
The Raiders face a critical AFC West matchup when they travel to Denver this weekend.

32 .Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
The Jaguars walk into the buzzsaw at Seattle this week.

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Draft Insiders' - Top 100 Pro Prospects

NFL Draft 2013 – Top 100 Pro Prospects

Photo - DT Star Lotulelei - Utah

For Top 300 Pro Prospect Rankings - order Draft Insiders’ Yearbook

NFL Draft 2013 – Draft Insiders’ Yearbook over 300 in-depth Scouting Reports

NFL Draft 2013 – Top 100 Pro Prospects
* underclassmen – April, 2013 Rankings

Pro Prospect - Pos - School
1 * Luke Joeckel - OT - Texas A&M
2 * Sharrif Floyd - DT - Florida
3 * Dee Milliner - CB - Alabama
4 Eric Fisher - OT - Central Michigan
5 Lane Johnson - OT - Oklahoma
6 Dion Jordan - DE - Oregon
7 Chance Warmack - OG - Alabama
8 Star Lotulelei - DT - Utah
9 Jonathan Cooper - OG - North Carolina
10 * Cordarrelle Patterson - WR - Tennessee
11 Tavon Austin - WR - West Virginia
12 * Tyler Eifert - TE - Notre Dame
13 * Sheldon Richardson - DT - Missouri
14 * Bjoern Werner - DE - Florida St
15 * Barkevious Mingo - DE - LSU
16 Kenny Vaccaro - FS - Texas
17 Ezekiel Ansah - DE - BYU
18 * D.J. Fluker - OT - Alabama
19 * Xavier Rhodes - CB - Florida St
20 John Jenkins - DT - Georgia
21 *Jarvis Jones - LB - Georgia
22 * Damontre Moore - DE - Texas A&M
23 * Zach Ertz - TE - Stanford
24 * Eric Reid - FS - LSU
25 * Alec Ogletree - LB - Georgia
26 Matt Barkley - QB - Southern Cal
27 Desmond Trufant - CB - Washington
28 Sylvester Williams - DT - North Carolina
29 Jamie Collins - LB - Southern Miss
30 Geno Smith - QB - West Virginia
31 Manti Te'o - LB - Notre Dame
32 Kawann Short - DT - Purdue
33 Margus Hunt - DE - SMU
34 Johnthan Banks - CB - Mississippi St
35 Ryan Nassib - QB - Syracuse
36 Datone Jones - DE - UCLA
37 * Matt Elam - FS - Florida
38 Jesse Williams - DT - Alabama
39 Justin Pugh - OT - Syracuse
40 * De'Andre Hopkins - WR - Clemson
41 Menelik Watson - OT - Florida St
42 * Corey Lemonier - DE - Auburn
43 Terron Armstead - OT - Arkansas-Pine Bluff
44 Alex Okafor - DE - Texas
45 * Kevin Minter - LB - LSU
46 Quinton Patton - WR - Louisiana Tech
47 * Logan Ryan - CB - Rutgers
48 * Robert Woods - WR - Southern Cal
49 * Sam Montgomery - DE - LSU
50 Jonathan Cyprien - S - Florida International
51 Markus Wheaton - WR - Oregon St
52 Jamar Taylor - CB - Boise St
53 * Johnathan Hankins - DT - Ohio St
54 * Gavin Escobar - TE - San Diego St
55 * Eddie Lacy - RB - Alabama
56 Jordan Poyer - CB - Oregon St
57 Larry Warford - OG - Kentucky
58 Sio Moore - LB - UConn
59 * Travis Frederick - OC - Wisconsin
60 Cornellius Carradine - DE - Florida St
61 * Justin Hunter - WR - Tennessee
62 Blidi Wreh-Wilson - CB - UConn
63 Kyle Long - OG - Oregon
64 Trevardo Williams - LB - UConn
65 * David Amerson - CB - North Carolina St
66 Montee Ball - RB - Wisconsin
67 Travis Kelce - TE - Cincinnati
68 Tyler Wilson - QB - Arkansas
69 Terrance Williams - WR - Baylor
70 Barrett Jones - OL - Alabama
71 Arthur Brown - LB - Kansas St
72 * Gio Bernard - RB - North Carolina
73 Vance McDonald - TE - Rice
74 Johnathan Franklin - RB - UCLA
75 * Keenan Allen - WR - California
76 Phillip Thomas - SS - Fresno St
77 Khaseem Greene - LB - Rutgers
78 * Jordan Reed - TE - Florida
79 Robert Alford - CB - SE Louisiana
80 * Bennie Logan - DT - LSU
81 D.J. Swearinger - DB - South Carolina
82 Ryan Swope - WR - Texas A&M
83 * Stedman Bailey - WR - West Virginia
84 B.W. Webb - CB - William & Mary
85 * Da’Rick Rogers - WR - Tennessee Tech
86 E.J. Manual - QB - Florida St
87 Aaron Dobson - WR - Marshall
88 Chris Gragg - TE - Arkansas
89 Darius Slay - CB - Mississippi St.
90 * Tyler Bray - QB - Tennessee
91 Malliciah Goodman - DE - Clemson
92 Brian Schwenke - C - California
93 Marquise Goodwin - WR - Texas
94 * David Bakhtiari - OT - Colorado
95 Leon McFadden - CB - San Diego St
96 Andre Ellington - RB - Clemson
97 * Akeem Spence - DT - Illinois
98 * Kenny Stills - WR - Oklahoma
99 Dallas Thomas - OG - Tennessee
100 * Marcus Lattimore - RB - South Carolina

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 18 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does sports radio shows for ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites.

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NFL Free Agency/ Trading Period 2013 – ‘New Window for Negotiations’

NFL Free Agency 2013 – ‘New Window for Negotiations’

Photo - WR Percy Harvin - Vikings

NFL Free Agency 2013 period opens on Tuesday March 12th at 4 pm. This year a new three day window for negotiations began on Saturday morning at midnight that gave clubs an opportunity to talk to agents about upcoming Free Agents to see if they are interested in their club and approximate contract dollars. They cannot sign until Tuesday March 12 at 4 pm, but it gives teams some guidelines about which players are interested in signing. Teams cannot talk to the player or have visits to their facilities. This initial free agency period is part of the new collective bargaining agreement that was signed last summer. The new salary cap was raised to $123 million per team that clubs must comply with by the opening of the new NFL year on March 4th. Teams can sign their own free agents now as well as restructure player contracts to create salary cap room.

The weekend prior to the opening of Free Agency creates a group of ‘New Street Free Agents’ of veteran players who are usually due large bonuses and higher salary for the upcoming season. Many veterans have been and will continue to be released through the early weeks with bonus clauses in upcoming contracts locked into specific dates. These ’Street’ free agents have become a core part of the Free Agency movement in recent years with many big names players hitting the open market after being released by teams. This year expect many new high profile veterans to join the open market as ‘Street” free agents, though none is expected to make the headlines like Peyton Manning did when he hit the open market last winter. He signed with the Broncos and made a significant impact on their offense winning the AFC West before losing in the playoffs.

This year NFL teams will have $123 million cap number to work with a slight increase over recent years. This was an increase of over $2.4 million over last year. The 2011 salary cap was $120.375 million with the 2012 cap slightly above at $120.6 million. That was only an increase of $225,000 over prior year.

NFL 2013 Trading Period - March 12th thru mid October 2013

The NFL trading period also starts on March 12th along with the Free Agency market and will provide a few big deals through the spring. With the new period for clubs to speak with agents a few key trades have already been agreed upon, but will not officially be announced until March 4th at 4pm.

Veterans, 49ers’ QB Alex Smith and Vikings’ wideout Percy Harvin will be changing clubs. The 49ers will trade Smith to the KC Chiefs for a #2 pick this year (34th overall) and conditional picks next year. The Vikings will trade Percy Harvin to the Seahawks for their #1 pick this year (25th overall) and #7 pick plus conditional middle tier pick next spring. The Vikings now have two #1 picks among 11 overall selections. The Super Bowl champion Ravens’ traded wideout Anquan Boldin to the 49ers for a 6th round selection this April. Boldin wanted to renegotiate his current contract, but his age (31) was a key factor for the deal.

Others veteran players that will garner a lot of interest when the trading period begins are Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis will attract enormous interest especially among playoff contenders. He will command at least one #1 pick plus other high choices or possibly two #1 picks. QB Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Ryan Mallett, Nick Foles, Matt Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Weeden and Tim Tebow will all create interest and could have a huge effect on the early rounds of the NFL Draft 2013 according to which clubs land a veteran starting QB.

Veteran wideouts, Panthers’ Steve Smith, Titans’ Nate Washington, Eagles’ Jeremy Maclin and Dolphins’ Davone Bess could all be changing teams this offseason. All received interest by other NFL teams over the past year and each will get attention once the open market begins. Packers’ TE Jermichael Finley is unhappy with his current contract and wants to renegotiate with resistance by the Packers brass. He will get some interest from playoff contenders, though probably only warrants a middle round choice off his recent performance.

Frank Coyle is a long time member of the FWAA and voter in College player awards - Heisman, Outland, Nagurski, Lombardi, Thorpe etc for the past 20 years. He writes College Football Mondays weekly during the season. He is a longtime scouting consultant for the Senior Bowl, the nation’s premier postseason All-star game. He does regular sports radio shows for CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports and Sporting News on a year round basis related to College and NFL Football especially during the postseason team and All-star Bowl time. He has worked for CBS Sports and appeared on several CBS TV shows. He has worked for NBC Sports, Yahoo and Rivals sports publications and web sites over the past twenty years. He has been a player consultant for numerous player agents and has helped formulate their off and post season training programs related to the NFL Draft and Free Agency.

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Calendar for the 2013 NFL Postseason

Calendar for the 2013 NFL Postseason

NFL 2013 Postseason Dates
March, 2013

March 2-3 - Regional Combine, Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility, New York/New Jersey
March 9 - Regional Combine, One Buccaneer Place, Tampa, Florida
March 10 - Regional Combine, Halas Hall (Bears), Chicago, Illinois

March 9-11 - Clubs are permitted to enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will be Unrestricted Free Agents at the end of the current League Year.

March 12 - Prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time, clubs must exercise options for 2013 on all players who have option clauses in their 2012 contracts.
March 12 - Clubs must submit Qualifying Offers to their Restricted Free Agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation.
March 12 - Clubs must submit a minimum salary offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2012 contracts and who have fewer than three seasons of free agency credit.
March 12 - All 2012 player contracts will expire at 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 12 - All clubs must be under the Salary Cap prior to 4:00 p.m., New York time.
March 12 - 2013 NFL League Year and Free Agency and Trading period begins after expiration of all 2012 contracts at 4:00 p.m., New York time.

March 16-17 - Regional Combine, Atlanta Falcons Training Facility, Atlanta, Georgia

March 17-20 - Annual League Meeting, The Biltmore, Phoenix, Arizona.

March 23-24 - Regional Combine, Virginia Mason Athletic Center (Seahawks), Seattle, Washington
March 23-24 - Regional Combine, Baltimore Ravens Training Facility, Baltimore, Maryland

APRIL
April 7-8 - Super Regional Combine, Cowboys Stadium, Dallas, Texas

April 25-27 - NFL Draft, New York City, New York.

MAY
May 20-22 - NFL Spring League Meeting, Hyatt-Harborside, Boston, Massachusetts.

SEPTEMBER
September 5, 8-9 - NFL Kickoff 2013

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NOTRE DAME'S KELLY WINS 2012 EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly Wins 2012 Eddie Robinson Award

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who has taken the Fighting Irish to their first unbeaten regular season since 1988, has been named the recipient of the 2012 FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, which is sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl.

Photo – Former Head Coach Eddie Robinson - Grambling St.

Kelly, in his third season at Notre Dame, won the award over eight other coaching finalists after a vote of the 1,200-member Football Writers Association of America. He is the fourth Notre Dame coach to receive the award following Ara Parseghian (1964), Lou Holtz (1988) and Charlie Weis (2005).

The Fighting Irish capped a perfect regular season (12-0) with a victory over arch-rival USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Notre Dame is the top-ranked team in college football in all the polls and will face Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7, 2013 in South Florida.

The 51-year-old Kelly will be presented the Eddie Robinson Trophy the previous evening during a reception at the Marriott Harbor Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Officials from Notre Dame, the Fiesta Bowl, the FWAA and the namesake coach's son, Eddie Robinson Jr., will be in attendance.

"It is with great pleasure the FWAA presents the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award to Brian Kelly," said 2012 FWAA President Lenn Robbins. "Notre Dame, under Coach Kelly, has returned to national prominence in the college football ranks. This award recognizes that accomplishment for the 2012 season, a season that began with 124 teams vying for an elusive undefeated campaign. Notre Dame was the only bowl-eligible school to accomplish that impressive feat."

"Brian Kelly is a deserving recipient for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award," added Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Robert Shelton. "He led Notre Dame to an undefeated record, earning the top spot in the BCS. Equally as impressive is the fact that his team boasts a 97 percent graduation rate, which is tied for best NCAA APR rate among all Bowl Subdivision schools. He inspires excellence in his players on both the field and in the classroom."

Notre Dame's 2012 season has been highlighted by victories over ranked teams at the time the Fighting Irish played them: Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford and Oklahoma. Senior linebacker Manti Te'o won the FWAA's Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's best defensive player, anchoring one of college football's top defensive front sevens.

Kelly, Notre Dame's 29th head football coach, began his head coaching career at Division II Grand Valley State in 1991. After winning back-to-back NCAA Division II titles there in 2002 and '03, he moved on to Central Michigan for three seasons before a highly successful four-year stint at Cincinnati. He guided the Bearcats to back-to-back BCS bowl games (Orange and Sugar) in 2008 and '09 before taking over at Notre Dame in 2010.
The FWAA has given out a Coach of the Year Award since 1957 when Ohio State coach Woody Hayes first claimed the honor. Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has been the FWAA's coaching namesake since 1997.

The late Robinson, the winningest coach in Division I history (408 games), passed away on April 3, 2007. Robinson's teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.

Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as "The Coach Who Made the Biggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25 Years," often took his show on the road to places such as the Louisiana Superdome, the Cotton Bowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium. And with his star-studded array of players Robinson helped integrate professional football.

In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player from a Historically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los Angeles Rams). By 1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from a Historically Black College to be selected first overall in the professional draft (American Football League by the Kansas City Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who's Who of professional football players, with more than 200 of his former players dotting professional rosters.

In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual All-Pro Doug Williams, Robinson's Grambling team and Alcorn State became the first college teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome. The next season, Robinson's Tigers, along with Morgan State, became the first American college football teams to play in Japan.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the keys to cities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form and fashion and has honorary degrees from many schools. The Eddie Robinson Museum has opened in his honor in Grambling, La., where numerous memorabilia now reside, including a bust of the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award.

The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association's official Web site, ncfaa.org.

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