ATLANTA — Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is one of 19 coaches who have been named to the preseason watch list for the 2017 Dodd Trophy, as announced on Wednesday by officials from the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
The list includes 19 of the nation’s top college football coaches representing all Power 5 conferences and the American Athletic Conference.
The Dodd Trophy, college football’s most coveted coaching award, celebrates the head coach of a team who enjoys success on the gridiron, while also stressing the importance of scholarship, leadership and integrity – the three pillars of legendary coach Bobby Dodd’s philosophy. Dodd was also a three-year Tennessee letterman from 1928-30 and earned All-America honors in 1930.
The watch list was created through a selection process by the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, taking into consideration each program’s graduation rate, commitment to service and charity in the community, projected success for the 2017 season and Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Jones enters his fifth season at Tennessee and his 11th season overall as a head coach. Under Jones, Tennessee is one of just nine teams in the nation with three-straight bowl wins over the last three years and UT is one of just three SEC programs with at least nine wins in each of the past two seasons. Jones has brought a championship culture back to the historic Tennessee program as the Vols have enjoyed three-straight winning seasons for the first time in 13 years.
Under Jones, every academic record in Tennessee football history has been broken and 84 Vols have earned degrees. In 2016, three Vols collected Academic All-District honors, while every senior on the 2016 team graduated with a degree. Last spring, Joshua Dobbs received the Torchbearer Award for 2016-17 – the highest honor given to an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee. Additionally, 67 student-athletes earned Vol scholar designation in 2016-17 for having a 3.0 GPA. UT football has achieved its highest-ever GPA, single-year and multi-year APR, and Graduation Success Rate during Jones’ first four years at the helm. Over the last two seasons, 26 Vols have played in bowl games as college graduates.
This past April, six Vols were selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, including No. 14 overall pick Derek Barnett. Tennessee’s six players selected were the program’s most picked in the first four rounds in 15 years, dating back to the 2002 class that featured six.
“The Dodd Trophy is unique in the sense it looks beyond rankings, wins or losses,” said Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation. “This is the most-coveted coach of the year award because it measures the overall impact these coaches have on their players and their communities. It includes a select group of individuals who embody the principles Bobby Dodd himself adhered to, such as leadership and integrity.”
“This list represents some of the most renowned and respected names in the game,” said Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Chairman Percy Vaughn. “We look forward to seeing how the season unfolds and which of these coaches set themselves apart from the rest of the pack, both on and off the field.”
Of the 19 coaches on the watch list, five are previous winners of The Dodd Trophy, including Bill Snyder (1998 & 2012), Chris Petersen (2010), Paul Johnson (2004), Dabo Swinney (2011) and Nick Saban (2014). Additionally, three of the coaches were finalists for last year’s award, including Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo and Chris Petersen. The ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC all tied for the highest number of representatives on this year’s list with four coaches from each respective conference.
Additional watch lists – adding to or narrowing the field – will be released throughout the fall. A panel consisting of all previous winners, national media, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member will identify the final list of potential recipients at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The winner of the 2017 Dodd Trophy will be announced in Atlanta during Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Week.
Starting in September, the Dodd Coach of the Week Award will also be presented weekly to the coach whose program embodies the award’s three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity, while also having success on the playing field during the previous week.