DALLAS – Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell led his team to historic heights this season within its program, its conference, the national rankings and even the College Football Playoff with an 11-win season that captured the country’s imagination and brought immeasurable attention to the school in Conway, S.C. For his achievements in leading the Chanticleers to so many historic program firsts, Chadwell was named the 2020 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by the Football Writers Association of America and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Chadwell is a first-time winner of the Eddie Robinson Award and the first coach from the Sun Belt Conference to win the honor. He was selected from voting by the entire FWAA membership from a field of eight other finalists from seven FBS conferences and the nation’s top independent program.
“Jamey Chadwell had an outstanding season that would have impressed even Coach Robinson,” Sugar Bowl president Ralph Capitelli said. “While going from being picked last in the conference in the preseason to winning its first Sun Belt Championship and reaching the national Top-10, Coastal Carolina became one of the feel-good stories of the season during a very tough year. Congratulations to Coach Chadwell and his Chanticleers.”
“Coach Eddie Robinson’s family sends congratulations and well-wishes to Coach Jamey Chadwell on his becoming the 2020 FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year,” said Eddie Robinson III, the grandson of the legendary coach. “His 2020 season at Coastal Carolina has been a phenomenal one not only for the school and for the Sun Belt Conference but for all of college football and its rich history.”
Chadwell, in his second full season as head coach at Coastal Carolina, will receive the iconic bust of the late Robinson, a College Football Hall of Fame coach at Grambling State University for 55 years and winner of 408 career games. Chadwell took over as interim head coach for Joe Moglia in the 2017 season and the was named the fulltime head coach replacing Moglia before the 2019 season. Moglia missed the 2017 season with health issues.
“This award is a direct reflection of the sacrifices that the Coastal Carolina University administration, staff, coaches, and student-athletes made to help our team have a historic season,” Chadwell said. “It’s an absolute privilege to represent Coach Robinson and I would like to thank the Football Writers Associations of America and the Sugar Bowl committee for the opportunity to accept this prestigious award.”
Chadwell, the Sun Belt Coach of the Year, first caught the nation’s attention as Coastal Carolina, picked to finish last in the SBC’s East Division, took a 28-3 lead into halftime of its Sept. 12 season opener at Kansas. CCU eventually won 38-23 to lead off a banner day for the Sun Belt that helped grab national headlines. A home win over Campbell then led into conference play, where a runaway 52-23 win over Arkansas State was followed by a notable 30-27 win at two-time West Division champion and nationally-ranked Louisiana with a field goal in the final seconds. It was Coastal’s first win over a top-25 team and began a string of eight straight conference wins that guaranteed Coastal’s first division championship, its first bowl berth and later its first conference championship at the FBS level.
As the wins mounted, so too did the attention as the win at Louisiana earned Coastal its first national ranking in both polls and it hasn’t left the top 25 since. Coastal, which had climbed to No. 14 in the polls, thought it lost a big opportunity when its home game Dec. 5 against No. 25 Liberty had to be cancelled late in the week. But the magical season got a rare coup when it was able to quickly replace it only two days prior to kickoff with another home game against No. 8 BYU. Once again the country’s attention turned to Conway and a rare late-season meeting between two of the top three ranked Group of 5 schools. The game drew one of the day’s largest television ratings as the Chants won, 22-17, tackling a BYU receiver at their 1-yard line as time expired.
It was one of two wins Coastal had over top 25 opponents, another program first, and earned them a No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press poll, the highest ranking ever for any Sun Belt school. It also brought the Chants up to No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, a first for the program and another Sun Belt record high for a program playing only its fourth season as a full-time FBS and Sun Belt member.
A Sun Belt Conference Championship Game rematch with Louisiana had to be cancelled due to COVID concerns, sending Coastal into the bowl season with its first undefeated regular season still intact. The Chants placed 10 players on the All-Sun Belt First Team and had 16 players on the team in all. Five of the six individual awards went to Coastal players: Player and Freshman of the Year (quarterback Grayson McCall); Defensive Player of the Year (defensive end Tarron Jackson); Newcomer of the Year (cornerback D’Jordan Strong) and Coach of the Year (Chadwell).
A rematch of sorts with Liberty came Dec. 26 in the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl in Orlando. Coastal scored with 3:01 left and got a two-point conversion to take the game to overtime. Liberty’s first possession ended with a 44-yard field goal, and the Flames blocked Coastal’s field goal try on its possession to take a 37-34 win to hand the Chants their lone loss of the season.
The Eddie Robinson Award is the second of two FWAA postseason honors won by Coastal Carolina this season. Senior defensive end Tarron Jackson is a first team FWAA All-American, the Chanticleers’ first player to earn that status or any FWAA postseason honor. Jackson was also a Bronko Nagurski Trophy finalist as FWAA’s National Defensive Player of the Year.
The other eight finalists for the award were Tom Allen of Indiana, Brent Brennan of San Jose State, Matt Campbell of Iowa State, Karl Dorrell of Colorado, Luke Fickell of Cincinnati, Nick Saban of Alabama, Kalani Sitake of BYU and Dabo Swinney of Clemson.
The FWAA has presented a coaching award since the 1957 season when Ohio State’s Woody Hayes was named the first recipient. Beginning in 1997, the FWAA Coach of the Year Award has been named in honor of the late Robinson, a coaching legend at Grambling State University for 55 seasons.
Robinson, who passed away in 2007, won 70.7 percent of his games during his illustrious career. Robinson’s teams won or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers won nine Black College Football Championships during his career spent all at the same school.
The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which encompasses college football’s most prestigious awards. Founded in 1997, the NCFAA and its 25 awards now boast over 800 recipients, dating to 1935. Visit ncfaa.org to learn more about our story.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 97 Hall of Fame players, 50 Hall of Fame coaches and 18 Heisman Trophy winners in its 87-year history. The 2022 Allstate Sugar Bowl, which will feature top teams from the SEC and the Big 12, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2022. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.6 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2.7 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit AllstateSugarBowl.org.
The Football Writers Association of America, founded in 1941, consists of 1,300 men and women who cover college football. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org.