Late Saturday night we posted a column debating the merits of Gus Malzahn and David Cutcliffe for national coach of the year. Each coach has (obviously) done and outstanding job, and each has fantastic points in his favor. Check the comments of that article and you'll see support is split down the middle, with some votes thrown toward Missouri's Gary Pinkel as well.
Two days later and - what do you know? - the three national coach of the year finalists are Gus Malzahn, David Cutcliffe and Gary Pinkel.
Naming those three finalists was easy. Picking a winner will be the hard part. A trio of clubs that went a combined 5-19 in conference play last season will each play for a conference title on Saturday.
A quick re-hash of each coach's candidacy:
PRO: He went 10-2 at Duke. He's 60 minutes away from winning the ACC and playing in the Orange Bowl. AT DUKE.
CON: Even Cut will tell you this season hasn't been much of a surprise. A season like this has been six seasons in the building. And the ACC schedule-maker did the Blue Devils a ton of favors by allowing them to miss both Florida State and Clemson.
PRO: An 11-1 debut after last year's 3-9 debacle will be the one-year turnaround for which all other one-year turnaround are measured against. If things break right elsewhere on Saturday, Malzahn could be the first coach since Miami's Larry Coker to play for a national title in year one.
CON: Last year's disaster notwithstanding, this is how a team with four straight top-10 recruiting classes should perform. Name another coach that walks into a situation with this much talent and talent specifically recruited to play in his system.
PRO: They don't have an Iron Bowl-like marquee win, but Missouri has been the most consistent of the one-loss teams. The Tigers have yet to allow more than 28 points this season, and each win has come by at least seven points. Aside from that disaster of a fourth quarter against South Carolina, this has been one of the top two teams in the country all season.
CON: At 5-7, he doesn't have the dramatic turnaround story of Malzahn, and going 11-1 at Missouri doesn't feel as impossible as going 10-2 at Duke. Outside of last season's injury-plagued 5-7 season, Pinkel's always been a winner in Columbia.
So, who you got?