2016 Assistant Coach of the Year Winners Announced

The American Football Coaches Association is proud to announce its 2016 Assistant Coach of the Year winners. One assistant coach from the five divisions of college football has been selected for their dedication to their teams and communities. A total of 76 nominees from Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and NAIA were nominated in 2016.

Each year, staff representatives from NCAA and NAIA football-playing schools are asked to nominate an assistant for consideration. From those nominations, the winners are selected by the AFCA Public Relations Committee.

The Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement. 

The 2016 honorees are as follows:
Football Bowl Subdivision–Dan Brooks, Associate Head Coach/Defensive Tackles, Clemson University
Football Championship Subdivision–Eric Dooley, Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach, Grambling State University
Division II–Mike Aldrich, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line/Linebackers, Southwest Minnesota State University
Division III–Scott Kirchoff, Quarterbacks Coach, Bethel (Minn.) University
NAIA–Lou Varley, Quarterbacks/Fullbacks Coach, Peru State College

“Once again, five outstanding assistant coaches have been selected for their dedication, not only to their teams, but to their communities,” said Executive Director Todd Berry. “Often times, the head coach receives much of the credit for his team’s success, but any head coach is only as good as his assistants. Much of an assistant coach’s work is done behind the scenes. It is our pleasure to bring it to the forefront.”

The criteria for the award is not limited to on-field coaching ability or the success of the team and players that these assistant coaches work with. Service to the community through charitable work and other volunteer activities, participation in AFCA activities and events, participation in other professional organizations and impact on student-athletes are all taken into account in the selection process.

Winners of the Assistant Coach of the Year Award will receive a plaque to commemorate the award. They will be honored at the AFCA Honors Luncheon, Monday, January 9 at the 2017 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.


AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Finalists for 2016

Football Bowl Subdivision
Dan Brooks, Clemson
Burton Burns, Alabama
Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma   

Football Championship Subdivision
Eric Dooley, Grambling State
Randy Hedberg, North Dakota State
Tim Plough, Northern Arizona
Brian Rock, Holy Cross

Division II
Mike Aldrich, Southwest Minnesota
Taylor Breitzman, South Dakota Mines
Alvin Parker, St. Augustine’s

Division III
Luke Cutkomp, Chicago
Cedric Dawkins, Rowan
Scott Kirchoff, Bethel (Minn.)

NAIA
Michael Budziszewski, Presentation
Jared Hottle, Dakota State
Lou Varley, Peru State


Assistant Coach of the Year Notes
99 assistant coaches from 77 different schools have been honored by the AFCA since the inception of the award in 1997 ... Bethel (Minn.) (Div. III) joins Campbellsville (NAIA), Carson-Newman (Div. II) and Hampton (FCS) for schools with three winners each ... Clemson joins Air Force, Benedictine (Kan.), Carroll (Mont.), Central (Iowa), Morningside, Mount Union, Northwest Missouri State, Wabash, Washington (Mo.) and Winona State with two winners each.

The Winners
Football Bowl Subdivision
Dan Brooks, Associate Head Coach/Defensive Tackles, Clemson: Brooks is in his 33rd year as a collegiate coach with the last eight coming at Clemson ... He is a longtime member of the AFCA and has served on AFCA committees for 30 years ... Brooks is very involved with Crosspoint Church and volunteers his time with several different organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, All In Team Foundation, Meals on Wheels, Wounded Warriors and Paralyzed American Veterans ... He also co-host the Picnic in Pittman fundraiser each year which benefits the Friends of the Great Smokey Mountains ... Brooks has produced 30 NFL draft picks, seven NFL first round selections, three All-Americans, 14 All-Conference selections and one Outland Trophy winner ... He has been a big part of Clemson’s resurgence in his eight seasons on staff with the Tigers going 82-25 during that span with six consecutive seasons of at least 10 wins.

Football Championship Subdivision
Eric Dooley, Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach, Grambling State: Dooley has spent 22 years coaching college football, with the last three at Grambling State ... An active member of the AFCA, Dooley serves on the AFCA Registration Committee ... He has volunteered his time at every coaching stop, including serving as a mentor for the Alma J. Brown Boy Scouts, working with high risk students in after school or summer programs, visiting retirement homes, volunteering with the Salvation Army Christmas Drive, Girl Scouts of Baton Rouge, Southern University November Turkey Drive, FCA/CCA field days and various Reading Literacy Fay programs ... Dooley’s offense is one of the best in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, ranking at the top in nearly every statistical category ... He has produced three HBCU All-Americans, a SWAC Offensive MVP and four All-SWAC performers.

Division II
Mike Aldrich, Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Line/Linebackers, Southwest Minnesota State: Aldrich has spent 22 years coaching college football, with the last two coming at Southwest Minnesota State ... He is very active with the AFCA, serving as the Division II Assistant Coaches Committee Chairman the past four years, and was a member of the Division II All-America Team Selection Committee for three years while he was the head coach at Augustana (S.D.) ... Aldrich currently oversees Southwest Minnesota State’s involvement in a work-a-thon, which is a community cleanup day for the city of Marshall ... He has worked with a number of organizations in the past, including Habitat for Humanity, Workers on Wheels, Minnesota Adopt-A-Highway and Make-a-Wish ... Aldrich established the Tackle Pink initiative for breast cancer awareness, working with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer Foundation ... He has helped organize team volunteer activities at a local food bank, Missouri River flood cleanup, tornado cleanup and other non-profit local events ... Aldrich organized and led a trip of 16 players to Norway for a cultural trip to work with Norwegian football players at the grass roots level ... In his first season at Southwest Minnesota State in 2015, he helped lead the Mustangs to an 8-3 record, the program’s best record as a Division II school.

Division III
Scott Kirchoff, Quarterbacks Coach, Bethel (Minn.): Kirchoff has spent 12 years coaching college football, all at Bethel ... He speaks to various groups on the Bethel campus, including freshman students, “Pursuit of Biblical Manhood,” and many discipleship groups ... He volunteers at FCA football camps and speaks at local FCA huddle groups ... Kirchoff led a group Bethel student-athletes on a mission trip to Slovakia, and leads a group of male student-athletes in “Be Resolute,” which disciples and develops men as leaders ... He is an active member of the AFCA and attends and contributes to various coaching clinics throughout the Minneapolis/St. Paul area ... Kirchoff has coached three of the top six passers in Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference history, two MIAC Most Valuable Players and has help lead the Royals to five MIAC titles and five trips to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

NAIA
Lou Varley, Quarterbacks/Fullbacks Coach, Peru State: Varley has spent 43 years as a football coach, 34 of those as a high school coach and the last nine as an assistant at Peru State ... He volunteers his time with the Nebraska City First United Methodist Church media booth, participates in the annual Peru city-wide cleanup day and the Brownville Historical Society cleanup and has been a participant in Relay for Life ... Varley has been an active member of the AFCA since 1988 and has been a member of the Nebraska Coaches Association for 40 years, serving as a sport host for NCA Multi-Sport Clinics ... As a high school coach, Varley led nine of his teams to the Nebraska state playoffs.

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