DALLAS (FWAA) – Notre Dame coach
Brian Kelly, who has taken the Fighting Irish to
their first unbeaten regular season since 1988, has been named the
recipient of the 2012 FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
Award, which is sponsored by the Fiesta Bowl.
Kelly, in his third season at Notre Dame, won the award over
eight other coaching finalists after a vote of the 1,200-member
Football Writers Association of America. He is the fourth Notre
Dame coach to receive the award following Ara Parseghian (1964),
Lou Holtz (1988) and Charlie Weis (2005).
The Fighting Irish capped a perfect regular season (12-0) with
a victory over arch-rival USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Notre Dame is the top-ranked team in college football in all the
polls and will face Alabama in the Discover BCS National Championship
Game on Jan. 7, 2013 in South Florida.
The 51-year-old Kelly will be presented the Eddie Robinson Trophy
the previous evening during a reception at the Marriott Harbor Beach
Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Officials from Notre Dame, the Fiesta
Bowl, the FWAA and the namesake coach's son, Eddie Robinson Jr.,
will be in attendance.
"It is with great pleasure the FWAA presents the Eddie Robinson
Coach of the Year Award to Brian Kelly," said 2012 FWAA President
Lenn Robbins. "Notre Dame, under Coach Kelly, has returned to national
prominence in the college football ranks. This award recognizes
that accomplishment for the 2012 season, a season that began with
124 teams vying for an elusive undefeated campaign. Notre Dame was
the only bowl-eligible school to accomplish that impressive feat."
"Brian Kelly is a deserving recipient for the Eddie Robinson
Coach of the Year Award," added Fiesta Bowl Executive Director Robert
Shelton. "He led Notre Dame to an undefeated record, earning the
top spot in the BCS. Equally as impressive is the fact that his
team boasts a 97 percent graduation rate, which is tied for best
NCAA APR rate among all Bowl Subdivision schools. He inspires excellence
in his players on both the field and in the classroom."
Notre Dame's 2012 season has been highlighted by victories over
ranked teams at the time the Fighting Irish played them: Michigan,
Michigan State, Stanford and Oklahoma. Senior linebacker Manti Te'o
won the FWAA's Bronko Nagurski Trophy as the nation's best defensive
player, anchoring one of college football's top defensive front
Kelly, Notre Dame's 29th head football coach, began his head
coaching career at Division II Grand Valley State in 1991. After
winning back-to-back NCAA Division II titles there in 2002 and '03,
he moved on to Central Michigan for three seasons before a highly
successful four-year stint at Cincinnati. He guided the Bearcats
to back-to-back BCS bowl games (Orange and Sugar) in 2008 and '09
before taking over at Notre Dame in 2010.
The FWAA has given out a Coach of the Year Award since 1957 when
Ohio State coach Woody Hayes first claimed the honor. Robinson,
a coaching legend at Grambling State University, has been the FWAA's
coaching namesake since 1997.
The late Robinson, the winningest coach in Division I history
(408 games), passed away on April 3, 2007. Robinson's teams won
or tied for 17 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships
after joining the league in 1959. His Tigers claimed nine Black
College Football Championships during his career spent all at the
Robinson, who was named by the FWAA in 1966 as "The Coach Who
Made the Biggest Contribution to College Football in the Past 25
Years," often took his show on the road to places such as the Louisiana
Superdome, the Cotton Bowl, the Astrodome, Tiger Stadium and Yankee
Stadium. And with his star-studded array of players Robinson helped
integrate professional football.
In 1949, Grambling standout Tank Younger was the first player
from a Historically Black College to sign with an NFL Team (Los
Angeles Rams). By 1963, Buck Buchanan became the first player from
a Historically Black College to be selected first overall in the
professional draft (American Football League by the Kansas City
Chiefs). Over the years, Robinson produced a Who's Who of professional
football players, with more than 200 of his former players dotting
In 1975, with one of his greatest teams quarterbacked by eventual
All-Pro Doug Williams, Robinson's Grambling team and Alcorn State
became the first college teams to play a game in the Louisiana Superdome.
The next season, Robinson's Tigers, along with Morgan State, became
the first American college football teams to play in Japan.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Robinson has the
keys to cities all over the planet, has been awarded in every form
and fashion and has honorary degrees from many schools. The Eddie
Robinson Museum has opened in his honor in Grambling, La., where
numerous memorabilia now reside, including a bust of the Eddie Robinson
Coach of the Year Award.
The Football Writers Association of America, a non-profit organization
founded in 1941, consists of more than 1,200 men and women who cover college football
for a living. The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists,
as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works
to govern areas that include gameday operations, major awards and its annual All-America
team. For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve
Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-713-6198.
The Fiesta Bowl is committed to fostering a culture
of community involvement and giving. Through elite bowl games and
related events, we serve as welcoming hosts, create lifelong memories,
promote Arizona and enable meaningful contributions to society.
The Eddie Robinson Award is a member of the
National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA).
The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate
football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity,
influence and prestige of the game's predominant awards. The NCFAA
encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration
of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients.
For more information, visit the association's official Web site,
Eddie Robinson Award
• Notre Dame's Kelly wins 2012 Eddie Robinson
• Nine finalists named for 2012 Eddie Robinson
• Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year
Award | All-time winners