NEW ORLEANS (January 9, 2012) - Each season, there are coaches whose guidance and leadership extend well beyond the playing field, leaving lasting impressions on the players they mentor and the communities they impact. Today, Liberty Mutual Insurance, in partnership with the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame, recognizes four coaches - one at each NCAA division - with the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year for outstanding seasons marked by success of their teams on the field, achievements by their student-athletes in the classroom and selfless support of their communities and charities.
The 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year winners - Les Miles of LSU; Rob Ash of Montana State University; Tim Beck of Pittsburg State University (Kan.); and Glenn Caruso of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), the first two-time winner of the award - were selected through fan votes cast December 6-22 at Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and ballots by elite selection committees of national media and College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches. Fans votes contributed 20 percent to each coach's final score, while the media and College Football Hall of Fame members accounted for 25 percent and 55 percent, respectively.
The four winning coaches each earn a $50,000 charitable donation from Liberty Mutual and a $20,000 scholarship award for their school's alumni association. They also will be honored in the permanent Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year display at the College Football Hall of Fame. With this year's awards, Liberty Mutual now has donated more than $1.5 million to over 80 charities on behalf of the 21 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year winners since 2006.
"These four coaches embody the spirit of college football: they inspire excellence on the field, commitment to academics, and dedication to their communities as true leaders both on and off the field," said Archie Manning, chair of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. "Once again, college football fans across the country were passionate about their favorite coaches and helped select, along with the national media and College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches, four leaders who exemplify the pillars of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year: sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence."
The 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winners are:
Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) - Les Miles, LSU
Since joining LSU in 2005, Les Miles has secured the Tigers a position among college football's elite programs, winning the 2007 BCS National Championship and finishing in the top 10 four times. In his seven seasons in Baton Rouge, Coach Miles has amassed a 75-17 record, won two SEC titles and holds the distinction of being the only coach in SEC history to win at least 11 games in four of his first six years in the league. Beginning with a Cotton Bowl victory last January over Texas A&M, LSU is riding a 14-game winning streak heading into this evening's BCS Championship Game against Alabama.
Coach Miles' accomplishments haven't come without hard work and a steadfast approach that expects excellence and dedication from his players, coaching staff and all of those who contribute to the success of LSU football. The Miles Method - a system that puts players in position to have success in the classroom, contribute and give back to the community, and compete for championships - is the foundation for which his program is built.
The Method is working: LSU ranks second in the SEC in graduation rates, with 139 Tigers successfully earning their degree under his watch; and the team's 2011 APR score of 966 is significantly higher than the FBS average. In the community, the Tigers played instrumental roles during the recovery efforts following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, which were two of the worst natural disasters to hit Louisiana. A week doesn't go by where members of the football team are not visiting hospitals, reading at schools or serving as motivational speakers to area youth groups. Miles himself is active in many charitable endeavors, including the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center annual fundraiser, the Special Olympics and the Children's Miracle Network.
Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) - Rob Ash, Montana State University
The current AFCA president, Ron Ash is also responsible for a legendary career on the field, amassing a .635 winning percentage in 31 years as a head coach. In just his fifth season at Montana State, Coach Ash is already among the program's most-winning coaches with 39 victories and led the Bobcats to a second straight FCS playoff berth in 2011 before falling in the quarterfinal round to finish with a 10-3 record.
Off the field, Coach Ash and his staff support the academic responsibilities of their student-athletes, and since 2006 has seen Montana State's academic progress rate improve more than 60 points. This past fall, two players earned regional or FCS all-academic honors. Coach Ash and his team also are renowned leaders in the Bozeman area and throughout the state. In the past year alone, Bobcat players and coaches have compiled over 800 hours of community service, benefitting Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs and local elementary schools. Coach Ash is personally involved in several charitable endeavors, including Coach to Cure MD, and is a spokesman for United Way and the Jason Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to youth suicide prevention.
Division II - Tim Beck, Pittsburg State University
After 23 seasons on the Pittsburg State coaching staff, including 16 as offensive coordinator, Tim Beck took over the head coaching reins in 2010 with a goal of returning the Gorillas to Division II prominence. Two years later, after a 6-6 inaugural campaign, Coach Beck fulfilled that goal by leading Pitt State to a 13-1 record, an MIAA conference title and the 2011 national championship.
Coach Beck also places a high priority to the classroom: this year four Gorillas earned national or district academic honors, and the PSU football program has produced 17 Academic All-Americans since 2000 - the highest total among all Division II football programs over that period. During the fall 2011 semester, the 110-student team posted a cumulative 3.0 grade point average, with seven athletes achieving a perfect 4.0 and 17 others earning Dean's Scholastic Honors.
Equally impressive is the MIAA Community Engagement of Excellence Award presented to Coach Beck and his team for the program's civic and charitable activities. These include visits to Class LTD, a center for developmentally disadvantaged individuals; the PSU Big Event, providing free yard and lawn service and trash pick-up for local elderly and disadvantaged families; "Ladies Night at the Pitt," a fundraiser created by Coach Beck and his PSU staff to benefit the Via Christi Cancer Center and Angels Among Us, a local cancer charity; and relief efforts to aid victims of the Joplin, Mo., tornados from last May. Coach Beck also is very active in fund-raising to further anemia research on behalf of his nephew who suffers from aplastic anemia.
Coach Beck is the second Pittsburg State coach to win the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, following his predecessor Chuck Broyles (2008).
Division III - Glenn Caruso, University of St. Thomas
The first two-time winner of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, Glenn Caruso has engineered a tremendous turnaround at St. Thomas in his four years. Taking over a two-win team following the 2007 season, the Tommies have become a national force, and reeled off consecutive undefeated regular seasons in 2010 and 2011. This year, Caruso led St. Thomas to a school-record 13 wins, the Division III semifinals, and earned a season-ending D3football.com ranking of #4 in the nation.
In four seasons under Coach Caruso, UST football has won CoSIDA Academic All-America honors five times; had one National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete; has had two Gagliardi Trophy finalists; had two AFCA Good Works Team honorees; and on the field has had two conference Player of the Year recipients and eight players combine to win 12 All-America honors.
Off the field, Coach Caruso and his program makes a great impact locally in St. Paul and beyond. With his award from the 2010 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, Caruso founded "Bucky's Pride," a foundation named for his father to support families of children dealing with cancer and blood diseases. He is a founder of a Reading Recess program, and the Tommie players and he participated in the Up 'Til Dawn Benefit writing 2,000 letters to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
"When Liberty Mutual created this award in 2006, we set out to establish an award that is more than an acknowledgement of a great season, but rather the highest recognition of the responsibility coaches have to their schools and their communities, on and off the field," said Greg Gordon, Liberty Mutual senior vice president, Consumer Marketing. "Every year our winners use their award to positively impact so many people in their communities, and we are excited to see how each of these four stellar leaders will use their award to extend the reach of their favorite charities in 2012."
2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Selection Committees
College Football Hall of Fame Voters included:
Archie Griffin, Archie Manning, Billy Joe, Bob Anderson, Bob Griese, Bob Reade, Brian Kelley, Bruce Smith, Carmen Cozza, Chad Hennings, Chuck Cecil, Curt Warner, Dan Dierdorf, Darrell Mudra, Dick Farley, Don James, Don McPherson, Don Nehlen, Fred Martinelli, Frosty Westering, Gordie Lockbaum, Herschel Walker, James Saxton, Jeff Davis, Jeff Siemon, Jessie Tuggle, Jim Ballard, Jim Christopherson, Jim Dombrowski, Jim Donnan, Jim Houston, Jim Sochor, Joe Dudek, Joe Fusco, John Cooper, John Robinson, Johnnie Johnson, LaVell Edwards, Lou Holtz, Marino Casem, Mark May, Paul Wiggin, Randall McDaniel, Reggie Williams, Richard Wood, Roger Brown, Roger Harring, Ron Johnson, Ron Yary, Ronnie Lott, Roy Kidd, Rueben Mayes, Ted Kessinger, Teel Bruner, Terry Donahue, Tom Beck, Tom Brahaney, Tom Osborne, Tubby Raymond, and Vince Dooley.
National media voters included:
Bill King (Rivals Sports Radio Network), Bob Eblen (D2football.com), Brandon Misener (D2football.com), Bud Withers (Seattle Times), Chris Childers (Rivals Sports Radio Network), Christine Brennan (USA Today), Clyde Hughes (D3football.com), Colin Cowherd (ESPN Radio), Craig Bennett (USA Today), Dan Jenkins (Sportswriter/National Football Foundation historian), Gordie Mann (D3football.com), Greg Dewalt (D2 Hall of Fame), Ivan Maisel (ESPN.com), Jack Bogaczyk (Charleston Daily Mail), Keith McMillan (D3football.com), Kelly Whiteside (USA Today), Kirk Herbstreit (ESPN), Marcus Fitzsimmons (Maryville Daily Times), Patrick Stevens (College Football Columnist/Washington Post), Ryan Tipps (D3football.com), Steve Conroy (Boston Herald), Stewart Mandel (Sports Illustrated), Teddy Greenstein (Chicago Tribune), and Tim Brando (CBS Sports, Sporting News Radio).
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ABOUT THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION & COLLEGE HALL OF FAME
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 121 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the College Football Hall of Fame, the NFF Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments, Play It Smart, the NFF Hampshire Honor Society, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Alumni Association, and scholarships of more than $1.3 million for college and high school scholar-athletes. The NFF presents the MacArthur Bowl, the William V. Campbell Trophy, endowed by HealthSouth, and releases the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) Standings. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org