DALLAS - September 6, 2007 - With fan voting opening today, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) announced its continued support for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, which is on display for the second year in a row at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind. The unique award honors college football coaches from all divisions of play for their combined coaching excellence, sportsmanship, integrity, dedication to academics, and community leadership based on a collective vote from fans, Hall of Fame voters and the media.
"Central in all of the NFF programs is an appreciation of the coach and the great standards they set for their players," said NFF Chairman Ron Johnson, a 1992 inductee in to the College Football Hall of Fame from the University of Michigan. "Liberty Mutual has created a unique award for bringing well-deserved recognition to the outstanding coaches at the collegiate level who produce victories in every aspect of life. It's a privilege to play a role in this award."
Backed by Liberty Mutual - the sixth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. - the 2007 version of the award has been expanded from the inaugural 2006 award, which was presented to one winner only (Greg Schiano of Rutgers), to include a coach from all four NCAA divisions. Each winner will receive $50,000 from Liberty Mutual to support his civic and charitable activities, $20,000 in scholarship to his school's alumni association, and will be recognized in the permanent Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year display at the National Football Foundation's College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.
"The Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award acknowledges the leadership role that college coaches play in the communities in which they work and in the character development of their student- athletes," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "This award fits perfectly with our belief that to win on the field you have to be a leader for your players off the field too. We are particularly excited that this year a coach from each division will be honored, highlighting all college football. We are proud to join Liberty Mutual in showcasing the best coaches from the collegiate gridiron at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana."
Fans across the country are encouraged to visit www.coachoftheyear.com between September 6 and November 27 to vote for the college football coach who they believe embodies responsibility - not only to his own team and players, but also in society and in his community. All football head coaches at an NCAA- member college or university at all division levels are eligible for consideration.
The top 25 fan vote getters in each NCAA division will be scored using a model endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame on such criteria as coaching excellence, sportsmanship and integrity, academic excellence and community commitment. The scoring will result in ten finalists in Division I-A (Football Bowl Subdivision) and five finalists from Division I-AA (Football Championship Subdivision), Division II, and Division III.
Fans return to www.coachoftheyear.com between December 5 and 15 to vote among the finalists. An elite committee comprised of College Football Hall of Fame coaches and players, and members of the national college football media also will cast votes to determine the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year in each division. Fan votes contribute 20 percent to each coach's final score, with the Hall of Fame voters and media contributing 55 percent and 25 percent, respectively.
A half-hour ABC/ESPN special will profile the four winners on December 29 at 5:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. PT).
"Every day in communities across the country, sports coaches impart valuable life lessons about leadership, cooperation, and integrity," said Greg Gordon, vice president, Consumer Marketing for Liberty Mutual. "Liberty Mutual honors responsible coaching because it is one of the clearest examples of a positive influence a person's actions have on young people, their families, and entire communities."
Road to the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year
Throughout the college football season, ABC will air six half-hour "Road to the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year" specials (2:00 p.m. ET, 4:00 p.m. PT), hosted by Keith Jackson and Kirk Herbstreit, and featuring some of today's most respected college coaches, as well as a look at a few coaches at the high school level who have had a significantly positive impact on their communities:
September 22 - Greg Schiano (Rutgers), Karl Dorell (UCLA) and Skip Holtz (East Carolina)
September 29 - Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), John Gagliardi (St. John's, Minn.), and John McKissick (Summerville, S.C., High School)
October 6 - Urban Meyer (Florida), Chris Petersen (Boise State), Bret Bielema (Wisconsin) and Chuck Martin (Grand Valley State, Mich.)
October 20 - Rich Rodriguez (West Virginia), Art Briles (Houston) and Clint Young (Greensburg, Kan., High School)
November 3 - Dennis Franchione (Texas A&M), Mark Speckman (Willamette, Ore.) and Dino Mangiero (Poly Prep Country Day, Brooklyn)
November 10 - To be determined.
A Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year mobile cruiser also will travel the nation visiting college football stadiums and youth sports venues throughout the season to allow fans to cast votes and interact with responsible coaching programs.