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Georgetown College's Bill Cronin joins very good company as the American Football Coaches Association released its 2011 Regional Coach of the Year winners. AFCA selects coaches from five regions in each football division for a total of at least 25 winners. There were two ties in the NAIA division for 27 coaches being honored this season for their 2011 campaign. Among those coaches are Louisiana State University's Les Miles, Oklahoma State University's Mike Gundy, Clemson University's Dabo Swinney and Eastern Kentucky University's Dean Hood.
In his 15 years at the helm of the Tigers, Cronin has been named National Head Coach of the Year twice, Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year six times, and just this year is receiving his first AFCA Regional Coach of the Year honor. He and Lindsey Wilson College's Chris Oliver were selected as co-Region 1 winners. GC went 12-1, winning its second straight MSC East Division Title and advancing to the 2011 NAIA Football Championship Series Semifinals. Oliver directed the Blue Raiders to a 7-3 finish in just the program's second season and a second place finish in the East.
The AFCA began recognizing district coaches of the year following the 1960 season. The awards were established the same year Eastman Kodak agreed to sponsor the AFCA Coach of the Year award. Prior to 1960, the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain had sponsored the program, which recognized one national Coach of the Year.
The AFCA first recognized eight district winners in each of two divisions: university and college. In 1972, a ninth district was added in each division.
In 1983, the award was changed to recognize regional winners instead of district winners, and the number of divisions was increased from two to four, and five regional winners were selected in each division. This resulted in a more equitable selection process and better represented the make-up of the membership. At the same time, the new system increased the number of honorees from 18 to 20.
In 2006, the AFCA Division II Award was split into separate Division II and NAIA divisions, giving us the 25 winners we now recognize.
2011 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Winners
Football Bowl Subdivision
Region 1: Dabo Swinney, Clemson University
Region 2: Les Miles, Louisiana State University
Region 3: Kevin Sumlin, University of Houston
Region 4: Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State University
Region 5: David Shaw, Stanford University
Football Championship Subdivision
Region 1: Rob Ambrose, Towson University
Region 2: Jeff Monken, Georgia Southern University
Region 3: Dean Hood, Eastern Kentucky University
Region 4: Craig Bohl, North Dakota State University
Region 5: Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State University
Region 1: Raymond Monica, Kutztown University*
Region 2: Ron Roberts, Delta State University
Region 3: Keith Otterbein, Hillsdale College
Region 4: Bill Maskill, Midwestern State University
Region 5: John Wristen, Colorado State University-Pueblo
Region 1: Sherman Wood, Salisbury University
Region 2: Jim Margraff, Johns Hopkins University
Region 3: Steve Mohr, Trinity University (Texas)
Region 4: Larry Kehres, University of Mount Union*
Region 5: Stan Zweifel, University of Dubuque
Region 1: Bill Cronin, Georgetown College (Ky.) &
Chris Oliver, Lindsey Wilson College (tie)
Region 2: Ted Karras, Jr., Marian University (Ind.)
Region 3: Jonathan Quinn, MidAmerica Nazarene University*
Region 4: Matt Franzen, Doane College &
Steve Ryan, Morningside College (tie)
Region 5: Mike Cochran, Southern Nazarene University
Repeat Winners: Kutztown's Raymond Monica, Mount Union's Larry Kehres and MidAmerica Nazarene's Jonathan Quinn are the repeat winners from 2010. Kehres extends his record District/Regional total to 16.
Multiple Winners: Other multiple winners in the 2011 class are Keith Otterbein (fourth), Steve Mohr (fifth), Steve Ryan (second) and Mike Cochran (second).
First Time Winners: Twenty coaches earned their first AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Award in 2011: Clemson's Dabo Swinney, LSU's Les Miles, Houston's Kevin Sumlin, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Stanford's David Shaw, Towson's Rob Ambrose, Georgia Southern' Jeff Monken, Eastern Kentucky's Dean Hood, North Dakota State's Craig Bohl, Sam Houston State's Willie Fritz, Delta State's Ron Roberts, Midwestern State's Bill Maskill, Colorado State-Pueblo's John Wristen, Salisbury's Sherman Wood, Johns Hopkins' Jim Margraff, Dubuque's Stan Zweifel, Georgetown's Bill Cronin, Lindsey Wilson's Chris Oliver, Marian's Ted Karras, Jr., and Doane's Matt Franzen.
Most Awards: Mount Union's Larry Kehres (1986-90-92-93-96-97-99-2000-01-02-06-07-08-09-10-11) has the most district/regional honors in AFCA history, extending his record to 16 awards this year. Penn State's Joe Paterno (District 2: 1967-68-71-72-73-77-78-82; Region 1: 1985; Region 3: 1994-2005) is second with 11 District/Regional Coach of the Year honors. Following Kehres and Paterno is Bloomsburg's Danny Hale with 10 awards (College Division I, Region 1 1986-87-88-94-95; Division II, Region 1, 2000-01-05-06-08). Hale won his first three awards while at West Chester. Seven coaches have won the award seven times: Mel Tjeerdsma, Northwest Missouri State, Jim Butterfield, Ithaca; Carmen Cozza, Yale; Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne, Nebraska; Tubby Raymond, Delaware and Bo Schembechler, Miami (Ohio), Michigan. Trinity's (Texas) Steve Mohr takes home his fifth Regional honor in 2011.
Most Winners by School: Mount Union-17 (Ken Wable-1, Larry Kehres-16); Nebraska-15 (Bob Devaney-7, Tom Osborne-7, Frank Solich-1); Penn State-12 (Rip Engle-1, Joe Paterno-11); North Dakota State-11 (Darrell Mudra-1, Ron Erhardt-4, Jim Wacker-1, Don Morton-3, Earle Solomonson-1, Craig Bohl-1); Texas-11 (Darrell Royal-6, Fred Akers-2, David McWilliams-1, Mack Brown-2); USC-10 (John McKay-6, John Robinson-2, Pete Carroll-2); Wittenberg-10 (Bill Edwards-3, Dave Maurer-4, Ron Murphy-1, Joe Fincham-2); Alabama-9 (Bear Bryant-4, Bill Curry-1, Gene Stallings-2, Mike Shula-1, Nick Saban-1); Michigan-9 (Bump Elliott-2, Bo Schembechler-6, Lloyd Carr-1); Arkansas-8 (Frank Broyles-4, Lou Holtz-1, Ken Hatfield-1, Houston Nutt-2); Ithaca-8 (Jim Butterfield-7, Mike Welch-1); Ohio State-8 (Woody Hayes-4, Earle Bruce-1, John Cooper-3); Oklahoma-8 (Chuck Fairbanks-3, Barry Switzer-2, Bob Stoops-3); Texas A&M-Kingsville-8 (Gil Steinke-2, Ron Harms-5, Bo Atterberry-1); Yale-8 (Jordan Olivar-1, Carmen Cozza-7).
Two Years, Two Schools: Five coaches have earned AFCA Regional Coach of the Year honors at two schools in consecutive years: Fred Akers: Wyoming, 1976 & Texas 1977; Dick Sheridan: Furman, 1985 & North Carolina State, 1986; Dennis Franchione: Pittsburg State, 1989 & Texas State, 1990; Joe Tiller: Wyoming, 1996 & Purdue, 1997; Hal Mumme: Valdosta State, 1996 & Kentucky, 1997.
Most Schools: South Carolina's Lou Holtz is the only coach to earn AFCA Regional Coach of the Year honors at four different schools. Holtz has earned the honor at North Carolina State (1972), Arkansas (1979), Notre Dame (1988) and South Carolina (2000). Houston Nutt (Mississippi, Arkansas, Murray State) became the sixth coach to win district or regional honors at three different schools in 2008. He joins Mike Price (UTEP, Washington State, Weber State), Jerry Claiborne (Virginia Tech, Maryland, Kentucky), Darrell Mudra (North Dakota State, Western Illinois, Northern Iowa), Jim Sweeney (Montana State, Washington State and Fresno State) and Jim Wacker (North Dakota State, Texas State, TCU) on that list.
Consecutive Years: Mount Union's Larry Kehres is the only coach to win district/regional honors in six consecutive years, winning in Division III from 2006-11. Northwest Missouri State's Mel Tjeerdsma and Nebraska's Bob Devaney are the only coaches to win district/regional honors in five consecutive years. Tjeerdsma earned the honor in Division II from 1996-2000. Devaney earned the honor in the AFCA's old University Division (1962-66). Carroll's Mike Van Diest joins Trinity's (Texas) Steve Mohr, North Dakota State's Ron Erhardt and Kehres as the only men to win the award four years in a row. Van Diest earned the honor in NAIA from 2007-10. Erhardt earned district honors in the AFCA's old College Division (1967-68-69-70) while Mohr earned the honor in Division III (1996-97-98-99). Kehres is the only coach to ever win Regional Coach of the Year honors for four years in a row (1999-2002), and six years in a row (2006-11), on two different occasions.
Thirteen coaches have earned district or regional honors three years in a row. Ithaca's Jim Butterfield (1978-79-80 and 1984-85-86) earned the award in three consecutive years on two different occasions.AFCA National Coach of the Year: The AFCA will announce its five 2011 National Coach of the Year winners at the 2011 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. All head coaches who were eligible for regional honors are eligible for national honors as well.