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Vol II 2015
Letter from AFM – Winning Waysby: John Gallup
Editor and Publisher
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At the end of the college football season, we assemble AFM’s panel of experts to debate which FBS coach is most worthy of receiving the Rawlings Football Coach of the Year honor. Winning is not the only criterion. We try to identify the coach whose team most exceeded their expectations and/or overcame obstacles on their way to a breakout season.
This year, the debate was short and sweet. It was clear, even before the championship game, that there was one coach that not only had brought his team to the brink of the title, but had done so in the face of long odds and a massive personnel challenge. And so, after his Ohio State Buckeyes upset Alabama in the first-ever College Football Playoff, we unanimously agreed that Urban Meyer was our 2014 Rawlings Football College Coach of the Year.
Our decision was reinforced a week later when Ohio State overpowered favored Oregon in the second half and rolled to a 42-20 victory in the CFP National Championship game.
When Heisman candidate quarterback Braxton Miller was lost for the season in August, many thought the Buckeyes were in for a rough season. When they were beaten at home by an average Virginia Tech team in September, the pundits declared them dead. When quarterback J.T. Barrett went out with a broken ankle the week before the Big 10 championship game, most experts thought Ohio State was toast.
But Meyer and the Buckeyes were able to overcome each one of these setbacks in their championship run. With a third-string quarterback, they steamrolled Wisconsin to leapfrog TCU and make it into the playoff as the 4th seed. Two upsets later, they were National Champions. It was Meyer’s third title, matching Nick Saban as the only coach to win championships at two different schools and cementing his legacy as one of the top coaches in this or any era.
The theme of championship coaches continued in other divisions in this year’s Rawlings Football Coach of the Year awards. Chris Klieman of FCS North Dakota State, John Wristen of Division II Colorado State-Pueblo, Lance Leipold Of Division III Wisconsin Whitewater, Craig Howard of NAIA Southern Oregon and Brad Smiley of JUCO’s Trinity Valley all won national titles in their respective divisions. Although there is no official national high school championship, Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, led by Rawlings Football High School Coach of the Year Tony Sanchez, finished the season ranked #1 in several national polls.
Another theme that emerged this year was change. After eight seasons at Wisconsin-Whitewater which included six national championships and an amazing 109-6 record, Lance Leipold is making the jump all the way to the FBS as head coach of the University of Buffalo. Tony Sanchez is making a minor geographic move but a major coaching move, going across town to become head coach at UNLV. And in his second season after replacing retired legendary coach Bob Ladouceur at De La Salle, the ultimate tough act to follow, our West Region Rawlings Football High School Coach of the Year Justin Alumbaugh led the Spartans to the California State Championship.
To every 2014 Rawlings Football Coach of the Year, congratulations on your achievement and continued success in 2015 and beyond.
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