Many of the 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award led their respective team to a conference championship.
Others raised their teams from the depths of their conference.
Some of the success was expected and the teams didn't buckle under the pressure. Others weren't expected and the teams rose up to the challenge.
Each is a different scenario, but all are inspiring for the finalists who on Monday were named to the ballot for the national coach of the year in the Football Championship Subdivision.
All 13 FCS conferences have at least one coach on the list.
A panel of about 160 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the Robinson Award winner, which is presented by The Sports Network.
Voting will reflect only the regular season and conclude before the FCS playoffs begin Saturday. The winner will be announced on Dec. 17 at the FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia.
The 20 Eddie Robinson Award finalists:
Dino Babers, Eastern Illinois - In his first season after replacing the legendary Bob Spoo, Babers guided the Panthers to the Ohio Valley Conference title and an FCS playoff bid. They were coming off back-to-back 2-9 seasons, yet posted a 7-4 record in the regular season.
Beau Baldwin, Eastern Washington - After the Eagles suffered through an injury- plagued 2010 season, they went 9-2 in the regular season, beat FBS member Idaho, earned a share of the Big Sky Conference title and qualified the FCS playoffs. Baldwin led the way by managing a two-quarterback system.
Dick Biddle, Colgate - The Raiders won the Patriot League title for the seventh time under Biddle and ended Lehigh's 18-game league winning streak in doing so. They take an 8-3 record into the FCS playoffs and have an offense ranked third in the FCS in scoring.
Craig Bohl, North Dakota State - The coach of the defending FCS champion Bison continued to set a high standard in the regular season, leading a 10-1 squad to a second straight Missouri Valley Football Conference championship and the No. 1 seed in the FCS playoffs. His team's defense has been the nation's best for a second straight season.
Monte Coleman, Arkansas-Pine Bluff - The best regular-season record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (9-2 overall and 8-1 conference) belonged to the Golden Lions, who ran away with the West Division title and earned a spot in the conference championship game. They finished the regular season with six straight wins.
Clint Conque, Central Arkansas - While qualifying for the FCS playoffs for a second straight season, the Bears did it this time with the Southland Conference's automatic bid, having beaten Sam Houston State for a share of the title. They ended the regular season with six straight wins for a 9-2 record.
Walt Hameline, Wagner - Superstorm Sandy didn't slow the Seahawks and neither did the Northeast Conference competition as they earned their first-ever FCS playoff bid with an 8-3 record. They turned around an 0-3 start with eight straight wins, ending the regular season as conference co-champions.
Kevin Higgins, The Citadel - In finishing 7-4, the Bulldogs posted their first winning season since 2007. Along the way, the military school program defeated Southern Conference powers Appalachian State and Georgia Southern.
Brian Jenkins, Bethune-Cookman - The Wildcats went undefeated in the Mid- Eastern Athletic Conference while winning the title for a second time in Jenkins' three seasons at the helm. They take a 9-2 record into the FCS playoffs, having won at least eight games in each of the last three years.
Joe Moglia, Coastal Carolina - Business became pleasure for the Chanticleers while they won the Big South title and the conference's automatic FCS playoff bid. Having left a long career in the business world to return to coaching in 2009, Moglia led a 7-4 regular season in his first year at CCU.
Joe Moorhead, Fordham - In his first season as the head coach of his alma mater, Moorhead turned around last year's 1-10 record with a 6-5 season. The Patriot League squad's five-win improvement was among the best in the FCS.
Karl Morgan, Mississippi Valley State - Under their third-year coach, the Delta Devils finished with a 5-6 record, which is one more win than their combined total from 2009-11. Morgan's Southwestern Athletic Conference squad ranked fourth in the FCS in total defense during the regular season.
Chuck Priore, Stony Brook - The Seawolves earned a share of their fourth straight Big South title while going 9-2 and returning to the FCS playoffs. They defeated an FBS program (Army) for the first time in program history and two playoff teams (Coastal Carolina and Colgate).
Danny Rocco, Richmond - The Spiders reversed a 3-8 record last year with an 8-3 season and a share of the CAA Football title under their first-year coach. Included in the five-win improvement were conference wins over Delaware, James Madison and Villanova.
Jason Simpson, UT Martin - The Skyhawks opened their season with a victory over FBS Memphis and didn't stop until they finished with an 8-3 record. They handed Ohio Valley champion Eastern Illinois its only conference loss.
Brock Spack, Illinois State - The Redbirds qualified for the FCS playoffs for the first time since 2006 while posting an 8-3 record. Included in the Missouri Valley squad's 5-0 start to the season was a win over FBS Eastern Michigan.
Bob Surace, Princeton - After finishing with a 1-9 record in each of Surace's first two seasons, the Tigers went 5-5, beat rival Harvard and posted a 4-3 Ivy League mark. Their first four losses were by a combined 13 points.
Andy Talley, Villanova - The 1997 Eddie Robinson Award winner turned around a 2-9 squad from 2011 with an 8-3 regular season, which included a share of the CAA Football title and an automatic qualifying bid to the FCS playoffs. The Wildcats' six-win improvement in the regular season was the nation's best.
Jeff Voris, Butler - The Bulldogs captured a share of the Pioneer Football League title for the second time under Voris by finishing 7-1 in league games and 8-3 overall. They had a seven-game winning streak.
Tim Walsh, Cal Poly - In their first season since moving from the Great West Conference, the Mustangs earned a share of the Big Sky title and went 9-2 in the regular season. They opened the campaign with seven straight wins, including one against FBS Wyoming.