Head coach Paul Petrino is a finalist for the AFCA’s Comeback Coach of the Year after leading the Idaho Vandals to an 8-4 regular-season record and a berth in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Petrino is joined as a finalist by Eastern Michigan’s Chris Creighton and Colorado’s Mike McIntyre.
In 2013, Petrino took over a program that had gone 3-21 in the previous two seasons. While his first two teams didn’t show the on-field progress he had in mind (1-11 in 2013 and 1-10 in 2014, the Vandals were making progress elsewhere. By 2015, they went 4-8 with three losses by a touchdown or less to set the stage for the 2016 campaign.
As he rebuilt the team on the field, he also was doing it in the classroom. Since his taking over the program, the Vandals’ grade-point average increased from a 2.23 to a 2.88 and their APR soared by more than 100 points.
The winner will be announced at the AFCA Awards Show, which will air on CBS at 6 p.m. PT, Jan. 10, 2017.