Richt a Finalist for Coach of the Year Award

ATHENS– University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt is among the 10 finalists for the 2007 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, which honors the college football men who best exemplify responsibility and excellence on and off the field of play.

The Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-A) candidates are, in alphabetical order: Rich Brooks, Kentucky; Sylvester Croom, Mississippi State; Paul Johnson, Navy; Mark Mangino, Kansas; Joe Paterno, Penn State; Mark Richt, Georgia; Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia; Jim Tressel, Ohio State; Tommy Tuberville, Auburn; and Ron Zook, Illinois.

The fourth-ranked Bulldogs are headed to the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans following a 10-2 regular season where they will face 10th-ranked and undefeated Hawaii (12-0). Richt is in his seventh season at Georgia with a record of 71-19. His .789 winning percentage ranks fourth best in the country among active coaches.

From December 5-15, fans can visit www.coachoftheyear.com to review bios and fan testimonials supporting each candidate and vote for their selection. Fan votes in this second phase account for 20 percent of each coach's final score, with a voting committee of college football media (25 percent) and College Football Hall of Fame coaches and players (55 percent) contributing the remainder.

The winner receives $50,000 from Liberty Mutual to support his civic and charitable activities, $20,000 in scholarship to his school's alumni association, and is recognized in the permanent Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year display at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.

During the initial fan-voting phase at www.coachoftheyear.com (September 6 – November 27), the top 25 vote getters in each division qualified to be evaluated by an objective model designed exclusively for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award and reviewed and endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame. The model arrived at the finalists by scoring each of these qualifying coaches in four areas: coaching excellence, sportsmanship and integrity, academic excellence, and community commitment. Data used in the evaluation process include won/loss records, penalties and personal fouls, academic progress rates and academic All-Americans, charitable and civic activities and contributions, and more.

"More than a half-million fan votes were cast for 597 college football coaches this season, a tremendous and passionate outpouring of support from college football fans across the nation," said Greg Gordon, Liberty Mutual vice president, Consumer Marketing. "Each finalist embodies what makes this award different from any other: responsibility – not only to his own team and players, but also to his school and his community."

The winners will be announced Dec. 29 on an ABC special presentation hosted by Hall of Fame Sportscaster Keith Jackson and ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit at 5:30 p.m. ET. The special award presentation will re-air January 8, 2008, on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. ET.

"From my vantage point in covering college football games across the country, I have the opportunity to watch these coaches execute their game plans, interact with referees and players, and meet the people they influence in their communities," said Herbstreit. "This award shines a well-deserved light on the lives of some truly remarkable men who use their mentoring role to make a positive impact on so many, both on and off the field."

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