The SEC championship, which pits No. 5 Missouri against No. 3 Auburn, might also decide who wins the Maxwell Football Club’s coach of the year award.
Missouri’s Gary Pinkel and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn were among the three finalists announced Tuesday along with Duke’s David Cutcliffe.
Pinkel has his Tigers in the SEC championship in the program’s second season in the conference.
Coming off a disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2012, Pinkel’s Tigers are 11-1, won the SEC East and now own at least a share of four division titles in seven seasons, including three in the final five years of Big 12 play.
Pinkel tied Don Faurot, whose name is on the field at Memorial Stadium, for first place on Missouri’s career coaching victories list with a 28-21 victory Saturday against Texas A&M.
Pinkel is 101-62 in 13 seasons with the Tigers, while Faurot went 101-79-10 in 19 seasons during 1935-42 and 1946-56.
Missouri has won 11 or more games three times in its history, including twice under Pinkel (2007, 12-2). Missouri credits Dan Devine with an 11-0 finish in 1960, which included a forfeit because of a NCAA rules violation by Kansas, which beat MU 23-7 in the final game of the regular season.
The winner will be announced Dec. 19 and formally presented during the 77th Maxwell Awards Gala, which won’t take place until March in Atlantic City, N.J.