Coastal Carolina's Jamey Chadwell is AP coach of the year

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FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2020, file photo, Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell waits to lead his team onto the field for an NCAA football game against Georgia State in Atlanta. Chadwell is The Associated Press college football coach of the year after leading the Chanticleers to a surprising near-perfect season. Chadwell received 16 first-place votes and 88 points from the AP Top 25 panel to finish ahead of Indianas Tom Allen, who was second with 14 first-place votes and 66 points. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

Coastal Carolina’s Jamey Chadwell is The Associated Press college football coach of the year after leading the Chanticleers to a surprising, near-perfect season.

Chadwell received 16 first-place votes and 88 points from the AP Top 25 panel to finish ahead of Indiana’s Tom Allen, who was second with 14 first-place votes and 66 points. Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell was third (5, 44) and Alabama's Nick Saban was fourth (8, 42).

Chadwell is the first Sun Belt Conference coach to win the AP award, which was established in 1988, and the third coach to earn it with a team from outside the Power Five leagues. UCF’s Scott Frost was AP coach of the year in 2017 and Gary Patterson won the first of his two AP awards with TCU in 2009 when the Horned Frogs were competing in the Mountain West.

San Jose State's Brent Brennan finished fifth, meaning Group of Five teams had three of the top five coaches in this year's voting.

The 43-year-old Chadwell directed a breakout season for No. 9 Coastal Carolina (11-1) in his third year leading the program.

The Chanticleers were picked last in the Sun Belt's East Division after finishing 5-7 (2-6) last year.

“I knew we weren’t as bad as people were going to pick us to be,” Chadwell said. “I thought we were going to be pretty good. I knew we were going to be better.”

Instead, behind freshman quarterback Grayson McCall running a creative option offense, Coastal Carolina had its best season since transitioning to the Bowl Subdivision in 2017.