The 2016 season is fast approaching, which means it’s time to start previewing players and who could be in the discussion for college football’s most prestigious awards when the season is all said and done.
The preseason watch list for the Dodd Trophy (given to the nation’s best head coach by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation) was revealed on Friday and a handful of Big Ten coaches made the 24-man list.
Of course, last year’s Dodd Trophy winner, Kirk Ferentz, made the watch list after leading Iowa to an undefeated regular season and a Big Ten West title. Ferentz entered the season with his seat warming up a bit after a few lackluster seasons, but led the Hawkeyes on a magical run. Iowa finished the season 12-2 after losing its final two contests to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and then Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Mark Dantonio was a finalist for the award after leading Michigan State to a Big Ten championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff. He appeared on the watch list alongside Big Ten East rivals Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh.
Meyer hopes to get the Buckeyes back on track after a “disappointing” 12-1 season and a Fiesta Bowl triumph over Notre Dame. Meyer might have his toughest coaching job ahead of him in Columbus, Ohio this season, as he must keep the Buckeyes in elite standing while replacing 16 starters.
The brash Harbaugh was a lock to make this list after turning Michigan around and winning 10 games during his first season in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Wolverines are loaded with talent and Harbaugh could be in line to win the award if everything goes as planned.
The final Big Ten coach on this list might be seen as a surprising nomination. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst was mentioned after leading Wisconsin to another 10-win season during his first year at the helm. Chryst will have his hands full this season as Wisconsin replaces quarterback Joel Stave, leading-receiver Alex Erickson and defensive mastermind Dave Aranda.