AFCA Announces 2015 National Coaches of the Year

The American Football Coaches Association will cap the 2016 AFCA Convention by presenting its top coaching award — AFCA Coach of the Year — to five outstanding coaches.

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (FBS), Jacksonville State’s John Grass (FCS), Northwest Missouri State’s Adam Dorrel (Division II), St. Thomas’ (Minn.) Glenn Caruso (Division III) and Marian’s Mark Henninger (NAIA) are the 2015 AFCA National Coach of the Year winners.

The winners are selected by a vote of the Active I AFCA members (coaches at four-year schools) in the Association’s five divisions. The AFCA has named a Coach of the Year since 1935. The AFCA Coach of the Year award is the oldest and most prestigious of all the Coach of the Year awards and is the only one chosen exclusively by coaches.

Dabo Swinney led Clemson to a 14-1 record, the ACC title and an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game. The 14 wins in 2015 set a single-season school record, and he has guided Clemson to 10 or more wins in each of the last five years. Swinney has a 75-27 career-record in his eight seasons as head coach, and has guided the Tigers to two ACC championships, won or shared four ACC Atlantic Division titles and won five bowl games. His .735 winning percentage ranks seventh among active coaches nationally with a minimum of five years as head coach.

In 2015, John Grass led Jacksonville State to a 13-2 record, the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) title and an appearance in the FCS National Championship game. This year’s 13 victories ties the school record for most wins in a single season, matching the 1989 squad. Grass has an overall record of 23-4 in his two seasons as head coach, and has guided the Gamecocks to two straight OVC titles and two trips to the FCS playoffs. Prior to his arrival at Jacksonville State, Grass recorded a 122-61 career record in his 17 years as a high school head coach in Alabama.

Adam Dorrel earned his second AFCA Division II National Coach of the Year award by leading the Bearcats to a 15-0 record, the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) title and the Division II national championship. In his five seasons as head coach, Dorrel has led Northwest Missouri State to two national titles, three MIAA championships and five straight playoff appearances. He has an overall record of 61-8. Prior to being named head coach, he served as offensive coordinator for the Bearcats from 2007-10 and helped the team to four straight national championship game appearances and the 2009 national title.

Glenn Caruso earned his second AFCA Division III National Coach of the Year award in 2015 by guiding St. Thomas (Minn.) to a 14-1 record, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) title and an appearance in the Division III national championship game. In eight years as head coach, Caruso has an overall record of 87-14 with four MIAC titles and six playoff appearances at St. Thomas. He led the Tommies to a 14-1 record and their first national championship game appearance in 2012, earning him his first AFCA Division III Coach of the Year Award.

Mark Henninger earned his second straight AFCA NAIA National Coach of the Year award after guiding Marian to a 12-2 record and the program’s second NAIA national title in 2015. He earned his first honor in 2014 after leading the Knights to an 11-3 record, a share of the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League title and an appearance in the NAIA national championship game. Henninger has a three-year record of 29-10 at Marian, and an overall record of 55-35, which includes his five years as head coach at North Carolina Wesleyan. He led the Battling Bishops to two conference titles and one Division III playoff appearance.
The winners will be honored Tuesday evening at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Award History
Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf, then of North­western, was named as the first AFCA Coach of the Year in 1935. One national winner was selected from 1935 through 1959. From 1960 through 1982, two national winners were selected — one representing the University Division and one from the College Division. From 1983-2005, four national winners were chosen. In 2006, the AFCA started honoring an NAIA Coach of the Year, bringing the total to the five honorees we have today.
Prior to 2006, the NAIA was a part of the AFCA’s Division II membership category.

Oldest Award
The AFCA’s Coach of the Year award is the oldest of all Coach of the Year awards, it is one of only two Coach of the Year awards recognized by the NCAA in Football Bowl Subdivision and the only Coach of the Year award recognized in the NCAA’s three other divisions. The NCAA does not select a “coach of the year” for college football. When a coach is referred to as “NCAA Coach of the Year,” he is usually the AFCA Coach of the Year winner.

Voting Process
The current balloting procedure involves selection of 25 regional winners: five regional winners in each of the five divisions – FBS, FCS, Division II, Division III and NAIA. Following regional voting, five national winners – one from each division – are chosen. All schools with eligible AFCA head coaches are listed on the national ballots and members are not limited to voting for regional winners.


All-Time Winners: A total of 160 men representing 117 institutions have been honored by the AFCA as National Coach of the Year since the program was established in 1935.

First Year Coach of the Year: Richmond’s Mike London and Valdosta State’s David Dean are the only coaches to earn AFCA National Coach of the Year honors in their first season as a head coach.  Dean was the Division II winner in 2007. London was the FCS winner in 2008.

Most Schools: Jim Tressel and Brian Kelly are the only coaches to win AFCA National Coach of the Year honors at two different schools in two different divisions. Tressel earned AFCA honors at Division I-A Ohio State in 2002 and Division I-AA Youngstown State in 1991 and 1994. Kelly earned AFCA honors at Division II Grand Valley State in 2002 and 2003 and FBS Notre Dame in 2012.

Top Individuals: Larry Kehres of Mount Union is the only coach in AFCA history to win National Coach of the Year honors nine times. He has earned the award in Mount Union’s national championship seasons of 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2008. Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Lance Leipold is in second place when he earned his sixth AFCA Division III Coach of the Year honor in 2014. Leipold won his other awards in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. Penn State’s Joe Paterno sits third with five AFCA Coach of the Year honors. Paterno earned his awards in FBS in 1968, 1972, 1982, 1986 and 2005. Northwest Missouri State’s Mel Tjeerdsma (1998-99-2008-09) and Bob Reade of Augustana (Ill.) College are the only four-time AFCA Coach of the Year winners. Reade earned the honor in 1983-84-85-86 in College Division II (now Division III). Grand Valley State and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly (2002-03, 2012), Carroll’s Mike Van Diest (2003, 2007, 2010), Sioux Falls’ Kalen DeBoer (2006, 2008-09), Appalachian State’s Jerry Moore (2005-06-07), Youngstown State and Ohio State’s Jim Tressel (1991, 1994, 2003), Alabama’s Bear Bryant (1961, 1971, 1973) and North Alabama’s Bobby Wallace (1993-94-95) are the only three-time Coach of the Year winners. Kehres, Leipold, Moore, Reade and Wallace are the only coaches to win the award in three or more consecutive seasons.

Top Schools: Mount Union is the only institution to have a representative win the AFCA National Coach of the Year Award nine times. Wisconsin-Whitewater is the only school with seven wins, while North Dakota State and Northwest Missouri State are the only schools with six. Georgia Southern and Penn State are the only schools with five wins. Alabama, Augustana (Ill.), Grand Valley State, Michigan, Ohio State and Wittenberg are four-time winners.

Larry Kehres has won all nine awards for Mount Union, while Joe Paterno has won all five awards for Penn State. Lance Leipold’s six honors and Bob Berezowitz’s 2005 National Coach of the Year award account for Wisconsin-Whitewater’s seven honors. North Dakota State’s national winners are Don Morton (1983), Earle Solomonson (1986), Rocky Hager (1988, 1990) and Craig Bohl (2012, 2013). Mel Tjeerdsma’s four wins and Adam Dorrel’s 2013 and 2015 National Coach of the Year awards account for Northwest Missouri State’s six honors. Paul Johnson (1999, 2000), Erk Russell (1986, 1989) and Tim Stowers (1990) are Georgia Southern’s honorees. Lloyd Carr (1997), Fritz Crisler (1947), Bennie Oosterbaan (1948) and Bo Schembechler (1969) are Michigan’s winners. Bill Edwards (1962, 1963) and his successor, Dave Maurer (1973, 1975), are responsible for Wittenberg being listed in the select group. Gene Stallings earned Coach of the Year honors in 1992 to join three-time winner Bear Bryant as Alabama’s winners. Augustana’s Reade accounts for all of his school’s awards. Ohio State’s Jim Tressel joins Carroll Widdoes (1944), Woody  Hayes (1957) and Earle Bruce (1979) as one of the four Buckeye coaches to win the award. Chuck Martin (2005-06) joins Brian Kelly (2002-03) as the winners from Grand Valley State.

Appalachian State (Jerry Moore, 2005-06-07), Delaware (Tubby Raymond, 1971-72; K.C. Keeler, 2010), Furman (Dick Sheridan, 1985; Jimmy Satterfield, 1988; Bobby Johnson, 2001), North Alabama (Bobby Wallace, 1993-94-95), Notre Dame (Frank Leahy, 1941; Ara Parseghian, 1964; Brian Kelly, 2012), Sioux Falls (Kalen DeBoer 2006, 2008-09), USC (John McKay, 1962, 1972; Pete Carroll, 2003) and Valdosta State (Chris Hatcher, 2004; David Dean, 2007, 2012) are all in the exclusive group of schools having three winners each.

Two-Timers: Jim Butterfield, Ithaca (1988, 1991); Glenn Caruso, St. Thomas (Minn.) (2012, 2015); David Dean; Adam Dorrel; Bill Edwards; Joe Glenn, Northern Colorado (1996-97); Rocky Hager; Mark Henninger, Marian (2014-15), Paul Johnson; Chuck Martin; Dave Maurer; John McKay; Gary Patterson, TCU (2009, 2014); Harold “Tubby” Raymond; Darrell Royal, Texas (1963, 1970); Erk Russell and Andy Talley, Villanova (1997, 2009) are repeat winners.

Back-to-Back: Kalen DeBoer, Bill Edwards, Joe Glenn, Mark Henninger, Paul Johnson, Larry Kehres, Brian Kelly, Lance Leipold, Chuck Martin, Jerry Moore, Tubby Raymond, Bob Reade, Mel Tjeerdsma, Bobby Wallace and Craig Bohl are the only coaches to win national honors in consecutive years. No FBS coach has won the award in consecutive years. Kehres is the only coach to win three consecutive Coach of the Year awards twice, while Tjeerdsma is the only coach to win two consecutive Coach of the Year awards twice. Leipold won three straight from 2009-11, then went back-to-back in 2013-14, making him the only coach to accomplish that feat.

Fit to be Tied: In 2003, Brian Kelly and Mike Van Diest became the fourth duo in the history of the AFCA National Coach of the Year award to finish in a tie for the honor and the first non-FBS coaches to share the award. Larry Coker and Ralph Friedgen finished in a tie for the honor in 2001. In 1964, Frank Broyles of Arkansas and Ara Parseghian of Notre Dame shared the award, and in 1970, Charlie McClendon of LSU and Darrell Royal of Texas were co-winners.

AFCA Coach of the Year Bios
Football Bowl Subdivision
Dabo Swinney, Clemson University
First AFCA FBS National Coach of the Year Award ... Led Clemson to a 14-1 record, the ACC title and an appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship game ... This was Clemson’s first national championship game appearance since the Tigers won it all in 1981 ... The 14 wins in 2015 set a single-season school record ... Has guided Clemson to 10 or more wins in each of the last five years ... Has a 75-27 career-record in his eight seasons as head coach at Clemson ... Has guided the Tigers to two ACC championships, won or shared four ACC Atlantic Division titles and won five bowl games ... His .735 winning percentage ranks seventh among active coaches nationally with a minimum of five years as head coach, and that same percentage ranks him fourth all-time in ACC history ... First coach at Clemson to win AFCA FBS Coach of the Year honors since Danny Ford in 1981.
Previous Regional Coach of the Year Honors: FBS, Region 1, 2011, 2015

Football Championship Subdivision
John Grass, Jacksonville State University
First AFCA FCS National Coach of the Year Award ... Led Jacksonville State to a 13-2 record, the OVC title and an appearance in the FCS National Championship game in 2015 ... This is the first national title game appearance for Jacksonville State since the program moved up to FCS in 1993 ... The 13 wins ties a school record for most wins in a single season, matching the 1989 squad ... Has an overall record of 23-4 in his two seasons as head coach ... Has guided the Gamecocks to two straight OVC titles and two trips to the FCS playoffs ... Earned his second straight OVC Coach of the Year award ... Recorded a 122-61 career record in his 17 years as a high school head coach in Alabama, leading five different teams to nine appearances in the state playoffs ... First coach at Jacksonville State to win AFCA FCS Coach of the Year honors.
Previous Regional Coach of the Year Honors: FCS, Region 3, 2014, 2015

Division II
Adam Dorrel, Northwest Missouri State University
Second AFCA Division II National Coach of the Year Award ... Completed his fifth season as the head coach at his alma mater, leading the Bearcats to a 15-0 record, the MIAA title and the Division II national championship ... Has led Northwest Missouri State to two national titles, three MIAA championships and five straight playoff appearances ... Has an overall record of 61-8, going 40-2 in the last three seasons ... Earned his first AFCA Coach of the Year honor in 2013 after guiding the Bearcats to a 15-0 mark and the program’s fourth national championship ... Prior to being named head coach, he served as offensive coordinator at Northwest Missouri State from 2007-2010 and helped the team to four straight national championship game appearances and a third national title in 2009 ... In his 12 years as an assistant or head coach, the Bearcats have recorded an overall record of 137-22 with three national championships and seven MIAA titles.
Previous National Coach of the Year Honors: Division II, 2013

Division III
Glenn Caruso, University of St. Thomas (Minn.)
Second AFCA Division III National Coach of the Year Award ... In eight years as head coach, has an overall record of 87-14 with four Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and six playoff appearances at St. Thomas ... In 2015, guided the Tommies to a 14-1 record, the MIAC title and an appearance in the Division III national championship game ... Led St. Thomas to a 14-1 record and their first national championship game appearance in 2012, earning him his first AFCA Division III Coach of the Year Award ... Has an overall record of 93-26 including his two seasons at Macalester in 2006-07 ... Three-time winner of the Liberty Mutual Division III National Coach of the Year Award.
Previous National Coach of the Year Honors: Division III, 2012
Previous Regional Coach of the Year Honors: Division III, Region 5, 2010

NAIA
Mark Henninger, Marian University
Second straight AFCA NAIA National Coach of the Year Award ... Guided Marian to a 12-2 record and the program’s second NAIA national title in 2015 ... Earned his first AFCA National Coach of the Year award in 2014 after leading the Knights to a 11-3 record, a share of the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League title and an appearance in the NAIA national championship game ... Has a three-year record of 29-10 at Marian, and an overall record of 55-35 including his five years as head coach at North Carolina Wesleyan ... Led the Battling Bishops to an 8-3 record, including a 7-0 conference mark, in his second season as head coach to earn USA South Conference Coach of the Year honors ... Led North Carolina Wesleyan to two conference titles in 2009 and 2010, and one Division III playoff appearance ... First coach from Marian to win AFCA NAIA Coach of the Year honors.
Previous National Coach of the Year Honors: NAIA, 2014


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