PHILADELPHIA – Baylor head football coach Dave Aranda has been named a finalist for the 2021 George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award, as announced Thursday by the Maxwell Football Club.

Aranda is joined by Luke Fickell (Cincinnati), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Mel Tucker (Michigan State) and Jeff Traylor (UTSA) as this year’s finalists.

After leading Baylor to a win in the 2021 Big 12 Championship, Aranda and the Bears earned an Allstate Sugar Bowl berth with an 11-2 record. Despite being picked to finish eighth in the conference in the preseason media poll, Aranda has tied for the nation’s second-best turnaround – with nine more wins in just his second season in Waco after last year’s 2-7 mark. The Bears currently sit sixth in the AP Poll, and were ranked seventh in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

Behind the guidance of Aranda and first-year offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, Baylor’s offense ranks 16th nationally with 5.26 yards per rush and 29th in the country with 6.37 yards per play. Baylor has increased its rushing production by 138 percent from last season, raising its rushing average from 90.3 yards per game (123rd nationally) to 214.7 yards per game (17th nationally).

Additionally, Baylor ranks inside the nation’s top-25 in fewest sacks allowed – with 18 and turnover margin at +18, in addition to ranking 26th in pass efficiency (152.33) and 37th in scoring (32.5 ppg).

Defensively, Baylor has held opponents to 13.1 points below their season average, and is one of three programs to limit every opponent to 30 or fewer points – joining Cincinnati and Clemson. Under Aranda and defensive coordinator Ron Roberts, Baylor leads the Big 12 and ranks fifth nationally with 16 interceptions.

The Bears place 14th in the country in scoring defense and 16th in rushing defense, holding opponents to 19.2 points and 116.9 rushing yards per game in 2021.

Baylor had seven players named to the 2021 All-Big 12 first- and second-teams – including four individual award winners in Jalen Pitre (Defensive Player of the Year), Trestan Ebner (Special Teams Player of the Year), Connor Galvin (Offensive Lineman of the Year) and Siaki Ika (Defensive Newcomer of the Year). Additionally, Pitre was one of three finalists for the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award, honoring the nation’s top defensive back.

Three different Bears earned a total of seven All-America honors from the five publications which make up the NCAA’s consensus teams, highlighted by Pitre’s four first-team accolades and one second-team recognition. Jacob Gall (second-team) and Galvin (third-team) were also recognized.

This is Aranda’s fourth finalist honor for a 2021 Coach of the Year Award, previously being named to the Eddie Robinson Award, Bear Bryant Award and Dodd Trophy shortlists. He also received Big 12 Coach of the Year honors from the Associated Press.

Voting opens Thursday, December 30 for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year. The winner will be announced on January 19, 2022, and presented at the 85th Maxwell Awards Gala on March 18, 2022.

Source: Baylor Athletics