September has passed, and some FCS teams played as many as five games during the first stretch of the season. So if the season ended today, which candidates would lead the voting for this level's top four awards — Walter Payton Award (top offensive player), Buck Buchanan Award (top defensive player), Jerry Rice Award (top freshman) and the Eddie Robinson Award (best coaching job)? Our panel of nine tuned-in voters put together a ballot and ranked the candidates 1 through 5.
Here, we highlight the Eddie Robinson leader.
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The 2018 season hasn't lacked for surprises through the first five weeks of the regular season, but few teams have shocked football fans quite like the Rhode Island Rams. Jim Fleming has breathed new life into a Rhode Island program that is routinely picked last in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Coaches picked Rhodey to finish last once again in 2018, but a sneaky font of talent has the Rams at 3-1 and undefeated against FCS competition. Fleming has the Rams in good position to make a run at their first playoff appearance since 1985.
Below Fleming in the poll are more coaches with winning records at non-traditional powers: Dan Hawkins at UC Davis and Dave Steckel at Missouri State. Hawkins and the Aggies won a shootout against FBS foe San Jose State earlier in the season; Steckel has Mo. State in the playoff conversation after a huge, season-defining victory over Illinois State last Saturday.
Aaron Best (EWU) and Tom Arth (Chattanooga) round out the top five.
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|EDDIE ROBINSON AWARD (Top Coaching Job)|
|Jim Fleming, Rhode Island||32 (5)|
|Dan Hawkins, UC Davis||19 (2)|
|Dave Steckel, Missouri State||15 (1)|
|Aaron Best, Eastern Washington||13|
|Tom Arth, Chattanooga||12|
|Mike Minter, Campbell||12 (1)|
|Lance Guidry, McNeese||11|
|Chris Klieman, North Dakota State||8|
|Randy Sanders, East Tennessee State||7|
|Dan Hunt, Colgate||5|
|Mike Houston, James Madison||1|
The Walter Payton Award (Results)
The Buck Buchanan Award (Results)
The Jerry Rice Award (Results)
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THE FAN VOTES
The Walter Payton Award (Vote Here!)
The Buck Buchanan Award (Vote Here!)
The Jerry Rice Award (Vote Here!)
The Eddie Robinson Award (Vote Here)
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Thank you to the following panelists for the media vote: Chris Brown, HERO Sports Campus Correspondent (Jacksonville State); Caleb Rux, HERO Sports Campus Correspondent (Montana State); Dave Thomas, ESPN Harrisonburg (Va.); Anthony Nachreiner, KGEZ in Kalispell, Mont., Keith Brake, Bison1660 in Fargo, N.D. and HERO Sports staff members Ben Fox, Chase Kiddy, Sam Herder and Brian McLaughlin.