Three Finalists Named for AFCA Comeback Coach of the Year


WACO, TEXAS – The AFCA will be presenting a new award called the Comeback Coach of the Year, at the inaugural American Football Coaches Awards show, to be televised live on CBS Sports Network on January 10, 2017 at 9 p.m. EST. The awards show will take place at the Grand Ole Opry House during the 2017 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tenn.
The finalists for Comeback Coach of the Year, who were voted on by Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches, are Chris Creighton from Eastern Michigan, Mike MacIntyre from Colorado and Paul Petrino from Idaho.
The winner of this award is a head coach who faced significant obstacles or adversity in the past or current season, but led his team to a great season despite the adversity. Examples might be losing a key player or players to injury, but still having a successful season; a head coach coming back from illness; dealing with a difficult situation at his university; or bouncing back from a bad season.
Creighton is in his third season as head coach at Eastern Michigan. After suffering through two tough seasons that saw the Eagles win a total of three games, Creighton led Eastern Michigan to a 7-5 record in 2016 and the program’s first bowl game since 1987. They also beat rival Central Michigan in their final regular season game, giving the program seven wins in a season for the first time since 1989. The Eagles tied the FBS mark for biggest turnarounds in 2016, improving on its win total from one win in 2015, to its seven this season.
Another great turnaround story in 2016 was what MacIntyre accomplished at Colorado. In his first three seasons as the Buffaloes head coach, Colorado finished last in the Pac-12 South division. But when the calendar turned to Sept. 2, 2016, the greatest Pac-12 turnaround was about to begin. MacIntyre led the Buffs from a 1-8 conference mark in 2015 to an 8-1 record in 2016. Colorado earned its first Pac-12 South Division title and won 10 games in a season for the first time since 2001. MacIntyre, who has already won three national coach of the year honors, is also a finalist for AFCA FBS National Coach of the Year.
Taking over a program that had managed a combined three wins in the two years before coming aboard, Petrino’s work at Idaho is quite an accomplishment. Coming into the job in 2013, Petrino was immediately faced with obstacles to overcome, taking on a program that was facing APR penalties that included a loss of scholarships and practice time. Petrino raised Idaho’s APR by more than 100 points and the team’s GPA by more than half a point in the following years. Following growing pains in his first three years as a head coach, Petrino would lead his team on a remarkable comeback, achieving more wins in 2016 than in the previous four years combined and one of the best seasons since the program moved up from DI-AA in 1996.
About the American Football Coaches Awards
The American Football Coaches Awards, featuring the AFCA National Coach of the Year, will be on CBS Sports Network on January 10, 2017 at 9 p.m. EST. This marks the first time the AFCA will televise its annual awards. The live one-hour program will air from the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tennessee, and coincide with the AFCA’s annual convention. The host for the show will be Eddie George, former Tennesse Titan running back and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State. Follow @WeAreAFCA or visit for more information. Check local listings at

About the AFCA
The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 11,000 members around the world ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to “maintain the highest possible standards in football and in the coaching profession” and to “provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football.”

Vince Thompson, AFCA Director of Media Relations,, 254-754-9900
Ginnie McSpadden, Norris Sports Group for AFCA,, 239-633-9015
Michael Harker, Norris Sports Group for AFCA,, 386-547-3943

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