Georgetown College’s Bill Cronin joins very good company as the American Football Coaches Association released its 2011 Regional Coach of the Year winners Tuesday morning. 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