With a 3-8 record in his first season, Bell guided the Dolphins to a 9-3 record and the first league championship in the 11-year history of the program. The six-win improvement is the biggest in the country, with JU entering the Gridiron Classic on a seven-game winning streak, which tied for the third longest active streak in the country.
“To be considered for such a prestigious award is truly humbling,” Bell said. “To even be a finalist is credit to our student-athletes and our administration because this has been a team effort to get our program to this level.
“We have accomplished a lot this season and our kids have worked so hard to become a championship team. This is a credit to them for their dedication to winning our conference and not giving up.”
Jerry Moore, the coach of the three-time defending national champion Appalachian State Mountaineers and the 2006 Robinson Award winner, is one of five former winners vying to repeat as the Robinson Award honoree.
Mickey Matthews, the coach of No. 1-ranked James Madison and the 1999 winner of the award, is another coach looking to be the first to win a second Robinson Award.
Other former winners on the list include: 2007 recipient Mark Farley of Northern Iowa, 2003 winner Mike Ayers of Wofford and 1997 winner Andy Talley of Villanova.
Joining the former winners on the list are Kerwin Bell of Jacksonville, Dick Biddle of Colgate, Clint Conque of Central Arkansas, Jack Cosgrove of Maine, Rich Ellerson of Cal Poly, Phil Estes of Brown, Bob Ford of Albany, Henry Frazier of Prairie View, Bobby Hauck of Montana, Dean Hood of Eastern Kentucky, Dale Lennon of Southern Illinois, Ron McBride of Weber State, Buddy Pough of South Carolina State, Danny Rocco of Liberty and Joe Taylor of Florida A&M.
The winner will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 18 during the 22nd annual Sports Network awards dinner at the Marriott Hotel in Chattanooga, Tenn., the night before the NCAA Division I Football Championship game.