BOZEMAN — Post-season recognition is nothing new for Montana State head football coach Rob Ash, the reigning Liberty Mutual FCS Coach of the Year. But Ash’s latest honor comes with a twist.
Ash was named 2012 FCS Region 5 Co-Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). The man he shares that honor with, Willie Fritz, is the coach he’ll see on the opposite sideline in Bobcat Stadium Friday night.
“This is a tremendous honor for our entire coaching staff,” Ash said. “Any time a head coach is singled out for an honor it’s really an acknowledgment that the entire staff has worked hard and enjoyed tremendous success. That is certainly the case here. It’s also an honor to share this award with Coach Fritz, who has done such an excellent job at Sam Houston State.”
The list of this year’s winners from the Football Championship Subdivision is impressive, and familiar. The Bobcats faced Region 1 award winner Sean McDonnell of New Hampshire in the 2011 FCS Playoffs, earning a second round win over the Wildcats, and last week topped Region 2 co-winner Chuck Priore and his Stony Brook squad. Fritz and his Bearkats knocked MSU from the Playoffs a year ago with a 49-13 victory in Huntsville.
This year’s AFCA Regional Coach of the Year winners in all divisions and information from the AFCS is below…
2012 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Winners
Football Bowl Subdivision-Region 1: Charlie Strong, University of Louisville; Region 2: Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M University*; Region 3: Brian Kelly, University of Notre Dame; Region 4: Bill Snyder, Kansas State University; Region 5: Mike Riley, Oregon State University
Football Championship Subdivision-Region 1: Sean McDonnell, University of New Hampshire; Region 2: Brian Jenkins, Bethune-Cookman University &
Chuck Priore, Stony Brook University (tie); Region 3: Dino Babers, Eastern Illinois University; Region 4: Trent Miles, Indiana State University; Region 5: Rob Ash, Montana State University & Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State University* (tie)
Division II-Region 1: Mark Maciejewski, Shippensburg University; Region 2: Connell Maynor, Winston-Salem State University; Region 3: Lee Owens, Ashland University; Region 4: Don Carthel, West Texas A&M University; Region 5: Aaron Keen, Minnesota State University-Mankato
Division III-Region 1: Mike Cragg, Hobart College; Region 2: Tom Watts, Ohio Wesleyan University; Region 3: Pete Fredenburg, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor; Region 4: Larry Kehres, University of Mount Union*; Region 5: Patrick Cerroni, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh
NAIA-Region 1: Bill Cronin, Georgetown College (Ky.)*; Region 2: Ted Karras, Jr., Marian University*; Region 3: Paul Troth, Missouri Valley College; Region 4: Steve Ryan, Morningside College*; Region 5: Chuck Morrell, Montana Tech
Award History: 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.
Repeat Winners: Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Sam Houston State’s Willie Fritz, Mount Union’s Larry Kehres, Georgetown’s Bill Cronin, Marian’s Ted Karras and Morningside’s Steve Ryan are the repeat winners from 2011. Ryan added his third Regional honor in 2012.
Multiple Winners: Other multiple winners in the 2012 class are Pete Fredenburg (sixth; 2000-02-05-07-10-12), Brian Kelly (fifth; 1998-2001-08-09-12), Bill Snyder (fourth; 1993-98-99-12), Sean McDonnell (third; 2004-05-12), Chuck Priore (third; 2004-05-12), Paul Troth (third; 2006-07-12), Don Carthel (second; 2007-12), Mike Cragg (second; 2002-12), Brian Jenkins (second; 2010-12), Trent Miles (second; 2010-12) and Mike Riley (second; 2008-12).
First Time Winners: Ten coaches earned their first AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Award in 2012: Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Eastern Illinois’ Dino Babers, Montana State’s Rob Ash, Shippensburg’s Mark Maciejewski, Winston-Salem State’s Connell Maynor, Ashland’s Lee Owens, Minnesota State-Mankato’s Aaron Keen, Ohio Wesleyan’s Tom Watts, Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Patrick Cerroni and Montana Tech’s Chuck Morrell.
Most Awards: Mount Union’s Larry Kehres (1986-90-92-93-96-97-99-2000-01-02-06-07-08-09-10-11-12) has the most district/regional honors in AFCA history, extending his record to 17 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. Six coaches have won Regional honors six times: Vince Dooley, Georgia; Pete Fredenburg, Mary Hardin-Baylor; Roy Kidd, Eastern Kentucky; John McKay, USC; Jerry Moore, Appalachian State; and Darrell Royal, Texas.
Most Winners by School: Mount Union-18 (Ken Wable-1, Larry Kehres-17); 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); New Hampshire-8 (Clarence Boston-1, Jim Root-1, Bill Bowes-3, Sean McDonnell-3); 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: Kevin Sumlin (Houston, 2011 & Texas A&M, 2012) joins five other coaches who 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) and 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). Brian Kelly (Grand Valley State, Cincinnati, Notre Dame) became the seventh coach to win district or regional honors at three different schools in 2012. He joins Jerry Claiborne (Virginia Tech, Maryland, Kentucky), Darrell Mudra (North Dakota State, Western Illinois, Northern Iowa), Houston Nutt (Mississippi, Arkansas, Murray State), Mike Price (UTEP, Washington State, Weber State), Jim Sweeney (Montana State, Washington State, 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 seven consecutive years, winning in Division III from 2006-12. 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, while Kehres won his four in a row from 1999-2002 in Division III. 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). 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 2012 National Coach of the Year winners at the 2012 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. All head coaches who were eligible for regional honors are eligible for national honors as well.
— MSU Sports Information