AFCA Annouces 2015 Assistant Coach of the Year Winners

The American Football Coaches Association is proud to announce its 2015 Assistant Coach of the Year winners. One assistant coach from the five divisions of college football has been selected for their dedication to their teams and communities.

Each year, staff representatives from NCAA and NAIA football-playing schools are asked to nominate an assistant for consideration. From those nominations, a winner is selected by the AFCA Public Relations Committee. The winners of this award were selected from Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III and the NAIA.

The Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement. 

The 2015 honorees are as follows:
Football Bowl Subdivision–Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Boston College
Football Championship Subdivision–Mark Ferrante, Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach, Villanova University
Division II–Ben Martin, Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Colorado Mesa University
Division III–Jim Ryan, Defensive Coordinator, Washington (Mo.) University
NAIA–Mike Gutelius, Defensive Coordinator, Lindsey Wilson College

“Once again, five outstanding assistant coaches have been selected for their dedication, not only to their teams, but to their communities,” said Executive Director Grant Teaff. “Often times, the head coach receives much of the credit for his team’s success, but any head coach is only as good as his assistants. Much of an assistant coach’s work is done behind the scenes. It is our pleasure to bring it to the forefront.”

The criteria for the award is not limited to on-field coaching ability or the success of the team and players that these assistant coaches work with. Service to the community through charitable work and other volunteer activities, participation in AFCA activities and events, participation in other professional organizations and impact on student-athletes are all taken into account in the selection process.

Winners of the Assistant Coach of the Year Award will receive a plaque to commemorate the award. They will be honored at the President’s Kickoff Luncheon, Monday, January 11 at the 2016 AFCA Convention in San Antonio, Texas.

AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Finalists for 2015

Football Bowl Subdivision
Robert Anae, BYU
Don Brown, Boston College
Scottie Montgomery, Duke   

Football Championship Subdivision
Bo Beck, Montana State
Bradley Sherrod, Sam Houston State
Mark Ferrante, Villanova

Division II
Theron Aych, Angelo State
Ben Martin, Colorado Mesa
Alvin Parker, Elizabeth City State

Division III
Scott Kirchoff, Bethel (Minn.)
Scotty Walden, East Texas Baptist
Jim Ryan, Washington (Mo.)

NAIA
Mike Gutelius, Lindsey Wilson
Matt McCarty, Northwestern (Iowa)
Lou Varley, Peru State

Assistant Coach of the Year Notes
94 assistant coaches from 74 different schools have been honored by the AFCA since the inception of the award in 1997 ... Campbellsville (NAIA), Carson-Newman (Div. II) and Hampton (FCS) lead all schools with three winners each ... Campbellsville’s three winners came in three straight years (1997-Samuel Wickliffe, 1998-Eric Graves, 1999-Haywood Riner) ...  Carson-Newman won its three awards in 2003 (Mike Turner), 2009 (David Needs) and 2013 (Denares Waites) ... Hampton won its three awards in 1997 (Alonzo Lee), 1998 (John Wright) and 2003 (Donovan Rose) ... Air Force, Benedictine (Kan.), Bethel (Minn.), Carroll (Mont.), Central (Iowa), Morningside, Mount Union, Northwest Missouri State, Wabash, Washington (Mo.) and Winona State have had two winners each ... A total of 82 assistant coaches from five divisions were nominated in 2015.

The Winners
Football Bowl Subdivision
Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Boston College: Brown completed his 34th year of collegiate coaching, the last three at Boston College ... He is a longtime member of the AFCA and has served on the AFCA Rules Committee and Division III All-America Team Selection committee, as well as published articles in the AFCA Summer Manual ... Brown has worked with charitable organizations such as the National Bone Marrow Donor Program, and participated in events such as the 2014 Cycle for Survival Event, which is a day dedicated to raising money for cancer patients and families ... Considered one of the best defensive coaches in the country, Brown led Boston College to the No. 1 ranked defense in FBS in 2015, allowing just 254.3 yards per game, second best defense against the run at 82.8 yards per game, and the fourth best scoring defense at 15.3 points per game ... As a head coach at Plymouth State, Northeastern and Massachusetts, Brown had an overall record of 95-45 and guided UMass to the 2006 FCS national championship game.

Football Championship Subdivision
Mark Ferrante, Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach, Villanova: Ferrante has spent 33 years coaching college football, 29 of which have been at Villanova, with the last 17 years spent as the assistant head coach ... An active member of the AFCA, Ferrante served as the Colonial Athletic Association representative on the AFCA FCS Assistant Coaches Committee, and regularly attends FCS Assistant Coaches meetings at the annual AFCA Convention ... He is very active in giving back to his community, such as serving as vice-president and active Board member of the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation, volunteering at the Phoenixville Community Education Foundation dinner and fundraiser and active in F.O.C.U.S. (For Our Children’s Uncompromised Safety) post prom parent organization ... Ferrante also participates in the Phoenixville Relay for Life, helped his son organize and run an Alex’s Lemonade Stand and is a volunteer coach at Lauren’s First and Goal Football Camp at Lafayette College ... At Villanova, Ferrante is active in student-athlete academic preparation and success and assists head coach Andy Talley in placement of student-athletes upon graduation ... His offensive line helped pave the way for a FCS national title in 2009, six conference championships and 10 FCS playoff appearances.

Division II
Ben Martin, Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach, Colorado Mesa: Martin has spent 10 years coaching college football, the last four at Colorado Mesa ... He has been an active member of the AFCA since 2002 and served on the Professional Development Series and Coach of the Year committees ... Martin is also active with his community, volunteering as summer camp coordinator, Bible School teacher and helps coordinate and serve on special projects such as Challenger baseball for special needs children, reading programs for local elementary school kids, highway cleanups and working at local food banks ... He is heavily involved in the academic progress of his student-athletes, as well as their personal and social adjustment to college ... Martin has coached several players who have earned All-Conference or All-America status, been a part of numerous nationally ranked defenses and special team units and has coached in multiple playoff games.

Division III
Jim Ryan, Defensive Coordinator, Washington (Mo.): Ryan completed his eighth year at Washington (Mo.), and 18th overall as a collegiate coach ... Ryan is very involved in trying to make his local coaching community better in several different ways ... He helped head coach Larry Kindbom set up a High School Coaches Summit, bringing together head high school coaches to dialogue the issues they face every day off the field ... Ryan runs the Washington University Secondary Clinic, which is a nationwide clinic that brings in the country’s top defensive back coaches or coordinators to deal specifically with issues in the secondary ... He regularly speaks at clinics all around the Midwest, does live video streaming clinics and has made two DVDs on defensive line play ... Ryan helps coordinate football student-athletes, in association with The Jason Foundation, to go out into the community and speak and help attack the threat of teenage suicide and depression ... He is a current member of the AFCA Division III Assistant Coaches Committee and attends the annual convention on a yearly basis ... As a recruiting coordinator, and because the athletic budget wouldn’t allow the football program to buy into recruiting network technologies, Ryan built his own system which links Washington (Mo.) to every high school in the country ... Since being named defensive coordinator four years ago, Ryan has made the Bears into one of the best defenses in the country, finishing third in scoring defense in 2013.

NAIA
Mike Gutelius, Defensive Coordinator, Lindsey Wilson: Gutelius has been at Lindsey Wilson for the past six seasons, and been a collegiate coach for 21 years ... He is active in the AFCA, serving on the Exhibits Committee on two different stints, previously served on the Division III Assistant Coaches Committee and annually attends the AFCA convention and participates in the Professional Development Series ... Gutelius is the Lindsey Wilson Community Outreach Coordinator, where he spearheads and organizes all of the football program’s community service projects ... Lindsey Wilson won the NAIA Champions of Character Team Award in 2013 thanks in large part to his leadership ... Gutelius has help organize and participate in a “Be the Match” bone marrow donor drive and a National Child ID program initiative where over 1,300 ID kits were passed out to local elementary school children ... He has also coordinated multiple spring game food drives, after-school reading programs and community trash pick-up campaigns ... Gutelius’ defenses have helped Lindsey Wilson to two straight NAIA playoff appearances, including leading the nation in turnovers in 2014 on a team that earned the school’s first conference title.

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