November 15, 2016

MARTIN, Tenn. – University of Tennessee at Martin head football coach Jason Simpson has been named one of 15 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award presented by STATS for the FCS Coach of the Year.

The list includes at least one representative from all 13 FCS conferences. STATS will present the esteemed Robinson Award at the national awards banquet on the eve of the NCAA Division I FCS Championship Game on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.

In his 11th season leading UT Martin, Simpson has taken the program to new heights. Leading a squad which lost 13 starters to graduation last season, Simpson and the Skyhawks have posted a 7-4 overall mark while notching a 6-1 record in Ohio Valley Conference play. With the strong season, UT Martin ranks as one of just 13 programs in the nation with one or fewer losses to a FCS opponent. With a win this weekend at No. 2 Jacksonville State, UT Martin would clinch the program’s second OVC championship and FCS Playoff berth – both ranking as the first since 2006.

UT Martin ranks first in the OVC in scoring average (34.5 ppg), interceptions (16), turnovers gained (26) and sacks against (13). The team’s defense has been strong down the stretch, ranking second in the league in scoring defense (23.2 ppg), total defense (323.9 ypg), pass defense (202.3 ypg) and rushing defense (121.6 ypg) to limit opponents to just 10 points per game over their last three games.

Simpson improved his overall record to 72-53 and 57-31 in league play with last week’s victory. The 11-year veteran needs just one win to tie Jacksonville State’s Jack Crowe with 73 career victories for seventh on the OVC’s all-time wins leaderboard.

Named for the legendary coach of Grambling State, past winners of the Robinson Award include Mark Duffner, Erk Russell, Chris Ault, Jim Tressel, Houston Nutt, Andy Talley, Paul Johnson, Joe Glenn, Jerry Kill, Jerry Moore and the only two-time winners, Mickey Matthews and Craig Bohl.

Simpson joins a finalist list which includes Brian Bohannon (Kennesaw State), Rod Broadway (North Carolina A&T), Steve Campbell (Central Arkansas), Andy Coen (Lehigh), Broderick Fobbs (Grambling State), Mike Houston (James Madison), K.C. Keeler (Sam Houston State), Chris Klieman (North Dakota State), Dale Lindsey (San Diego), Jerry Mack (North Carolina Central), Bubba Schwiegert (North Dakota), Bob Surace (Princeton), Brent Thompson (The Citadel) and Chris Villarrial (Saint Francis).

A national panel of over 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award following the regular season. Also this season, STATS will present the Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year), the Buck Buchanan Award (FCS defensive player of the year), the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman player of the year) and the Doris Robinson FCS Scholar-Athlete of the Year.