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2008 American Football Coaches' Association Regional Coach of the Year Winners Announced

December 09, 2008
By NAIA National Office

Dec. 9, 2008

Story courtesy of AFCA Office


WACO, Texas — First time winners Brady Hoke of Ball State and Henry Frazier of Prairie View A&M and seven-time winner Mel Tjeerdsma of Northwest Missouri State highlight today’s announcement of the American Football Coaches Association’s 2008 Regional Coach of the Year winners.


The AFCA recognizes five regional Coach of the Year winners in each of the Association’s five divisions: Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA.


The winners are selected by Active members of the Association who vote for coaches in their respective regions and divisions.


The Winners: Ball State’s Brady Hoke is the Football Bowl Subdivision Region 3 winner this year. Hoke led the Cardinals to a 12-1 record, the MAC Western Division title and a berth in the MAC championship game this season.


Prairie View’s Henry Frazier is the Football Championship Subdivision Region 3 winner this year. Frazier led the Panthers to a 9-1 record this season. The nine wins are the most for the program since 1964.


Northwest Missouri State’s Mel Tjeerdsma earned his seventh Regional Coach of the Year award, this time in Division II Region 3. Tjeerdsma has led the Bearcats to a 13-1 record, the MIAA titile and a berth in the NCAA Division II championship game this season.


Joining Hoke as winners in Football Bowl Subdivision are Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly (Region 1), Mississippi’s Houston Nutt (Region 2), Texas Tech’s Mike Leach (Region 4) and Oregon State’s Mike Riley (Region 5).


Joining Frazier in the Football Championship Subdivision are Villanova’s Andy Talley (Region 1); Appalachian State’s Jerry Moore (Region 2); Southern Illinois’ Dale Lennon (Region 4) and Central Arkansas’ Clint Conque (Region 5).


Joining Tjeerdsma as winners in Division II are California’s (Pa.) John Luckhardt and Bloomsburg’s Danny Hale (Region 1-tie), Tusculum’s Frankie DeBusk (Region 2); Abilene Christian’s Chris Thomsen (Region 4) and Wayne State’s (Neb.) Dan McLaughlin (Region 5).


In Division III, the winners are Ithaca’s Mike Welch (Region 1); Case Western’s Greg Debeljak (Region 2); Hardin-Simmons’ Jimmie Keeling (Region 3) Mount Union’s Larry Kehres and Trine’s Matt Land (Region 4-tie), and Willamette’s Mark Speckman (Region 5).


In NAIA, the winners are Cumberlands’ (Ky.) John Bland and Shorter’s Phil Jones (Region 1-tie); St. Francis’ (Ind.) Kevin Donley (Region 2); MidAmerica Nazarene’s Jed Stugart (Region 3); Dickinson State’s Hank Biesiot (Region 4) and Carroll’s (Mont.) Mike Van Diest (Region 5).


The 2008 Regional Coach of the Year winners will be recognized at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner at the 2009 AFCA Convention in Nasahville, Tenn. The dinner is scheduled for January 13.


AFCA National Coach of the Year:  The AFCA will announce its five 2008 National Coach of the Year winners at the 2009 AFCA Convention in Nashville, Tenn. All head coaches who were eligible for regional honors are eligible for national honors as well.


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.


AFCA National Coach of the Year Winners to Earn Rewards for Their Assistants The full-time assistants at the five schools represented by the AFCA National Coach of the Year winners will each receive a $1,000 grant from the American Football Coaches Foundation to assist in the education or professional development of each assistant.


2008 AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Winners

Football Bowl Subdivision

Region 1: Brian Kelly, University of Cincinnati Region 2: Houston Nutt, University of Mississippi Region 3: Brady Hoke, Ball State University Region 4: Mike Leach, Texas Tech University Region 5: Mike Riley, Oregon State University


Football Championship Subdivision

Region 1: Andy Talley, Villanova University Region 2: Jerry Moore, Appalachian State University Region 3: Henry Frazier, Prairie View A&M University Region 4: Dale Lennon, Southern Illinois University Region 5: Clint Conque, University of Central Arkansas


Division II

Region 1: Danny Hale, Bloomsburg University & John Luckhardt, California University (Pa.) (tie) Region 2: Frankie DeBusk, Tusculum College Region 3: Mel Tjeerdsma, Northwest Missouri State University Region 4: Chris Thomsen, Abilene Christian University Region 5: Dan McLaughlin, Wayne State College (Neb.)


Division III

Region 1: Mike Welch, Ithaca College

Region 2: Greg Debeljak, Case Western Reserve University Region 3: Jimmie Keeling, Hardin-Simmons University Region 4: Larry Kehres, Mount Union College & Matt Land, Trine University (tie) Region 5: Mark Speckman, Willamette University



Region 1: John Bland, University of the Cumberlands (Ky.) & Phil Jones, Shorter College (tie) Region 2: Kevin Donley, University of St. Francis (Ind.) Region 3: Jed Stugart, MidAmerica Nazarene University Region 4: Hank Biesiot, Dickinson State University Region 5: Mike Van Diest, Carroll College (Mont.)


Repeat Winners: California’s (Pa.) John Luckhardt, Mount Union’s Larry Kehres and Carroll’s Mike Van Diest are the only repeat winners from 2007. Kehres extends his record District/Regional total to 13. Luckhardt won for the fifth time and Van Diest won for the second time.


Multiple Winners: Other multiple winners in the 2008 class are Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly (third), Mississippi’s Houston Nutt (fifth), Villanova’s Andy Talley (fourth), Appalachian State’s Jerry Moore (fifth), Southern Illinois’ Dale Lennon (second), Bloomsburg’s Danny Hale (tenth), Northwest Missouri State’s Mel Tjeerdsma (seventh), Hardin-Simmons’ Jimmie Keeling (third), Carroll’s Mike Van Diest (second).


First Time Schools: Eleven coaches earned the first AFCA Regional Coach of the Year Award for their school in 2008: Cincinnati’s Brian Kelly, Prairie View’s Henry Frazier, Central Arkansas’ Clint Conque, Tusculum’s Frankie DeBusk, Wayne State’s (Neb.) Dan McLaughlin, Case Western’s Greg Debeljak, Trine’s Matt Land, Cumberlands’ (Ky.) John Bland, Shorter’s Phil Jones, St. Francis’ (Ind.) Kevin Donley and Dickinson State’s Hank Biesiot.


Most Awards: Mount Union’s Larry Kehres (1986-90-92-93-96-97-99-2000-01-02-06-07-08) has the most district/regional honors in AFCA history, extending his record to 13 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, who won his 10 award in 2008 (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.


Most Winners by School: Nebraska-15 (Bob Devaney-7, Tom Osborne-7, Frank Solich-1); Mount Union-14 (Ken Wable-1, Larry Kehres-13); Penn State-12 (Rip Engle-1, Joe Paterno-11); North Dakota State-10 (Darrell Mudra-1, Ron Erhardt-4, Jim Wacker-1, Don Morton-3, Earle Solomonson-1); Southern California-10 (John McKay-6, John Robinson-2, Pete Carroll-2); Texas-10 (Darrell Royal-6, Fred Akers-2, David McWilliams-1, Mack Brown-1); Wittenberg-9 (Bill Edwards-3, Dave Maurer-4, Ron Murphy-1, Joe Fincham-1); Michigan-8 (Bump Elliott-2, Bo Schembechler-6); Alabama-8 (Bear Bryant-4, Bill Curry-1, Gene Stallings-2, Mike Shula-1), Ithaca-8 (Jim Butterfield-7, Mike Welch-1), Oklahoma-8 (Chuck Fairbanks-3, Barry Switzer-2, Bob Stoops-3); 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 & Southwest 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 this year. He joins Mike Price (UTEP, Washington Statse, 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, Southwest Texas State and TCU) on that list.


Consecutive Years: 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 (1962-63-64-65-66). Trinity (Texas)’s Steve Mohr, North Dakota State’s Ron Erhardt and Mount Union’s Larry Kehres are the only men to win the award four years in a row. 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 earned the honor in 1999-2000-01-02.


Thirteen coaches have earned district or regional honors three years in a row. This year Kehres joined former Ithaca College coach Jim Butterfield  (1978-79-80 and 1984-85-86) as the only coaches to earn the award in three consecutive years on two different occasions.


Championship Information

NAIA Football Championship
Sports Rules - Football