NEW YORK – North Dakota head football coach Chris Mussman learned on Tuesday that he is one of five FCS finalists for the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year honor. The announcement was made in a press conference in New York City by Liberty Mutual officials.
The Liberty Mutual Coach the Year Award honors one coach from each NCAA division who displays sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence on and off the field.
The top 15 coaches based on the initial round of fan voting were then run through an objective computer model that measured coaching excellence, sportsmanship and integrity, academic success and community service to arrive at the five finalists. The other four finalists are Towson's Rob Ambrose, Montana State's Rob Ash, Holy Cross' Tom Gilmore and Appalachian State's Jerry Moore.
During the 2011 season, Mussman led the Fighting Sioux, a team picked to finish last in the GWC preseason coaches’ poll, to an 8-3 record, a share of the Great West Conference Championship and a final national ranking in both FCS Top 25 polls.
The five-game turnaround from the 2010 season was the third best in program history as the squad flipped its 3-8 record by closing the year on a four-game winning streak. Two of the team’s three losses were to Football Bowl Subdivision opponents
“This is a special honor and recognition for what Coach Mussman has done in the community of Grand Forks and on the field with his football team,” UND athletics director Brian Faison said. “This is well-deserved and he has done a great job building a competitive FCS program during the transition to the Division I level.”
Besides the success on the field in 2011, Mussman and his players combined to put in more than 1,800 community service hours throughout the calendar year. These projects included hosting the West Elementary Family Fun Night, filling bags of food for the Grand Forks ‘Feed My Starving Children’ program, hosting free youth football clinics in the community and orchestrating the program’s annual ‘Holiday Magic From Markus’ fundraiser that benefits families of youth stricken with poor health.
Those community efforts earned national recognition earlier this season when senior safety Justin Belotti (Kenosha, Wis.) was one of 22 players from all levels of collegiate football to be named to the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team.
As a finalist, Coach Mussman is counting on UND supporters to help him get to the top spot via fan voting. Fighting Sioux fans can vote once a day at www.coachoftheyear.com.
If Coach Mussman wins the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award he will receive $50,000 to donate to a charity of his choice and $20,000 in scholarship money for the UND Alumni Association.
“Our fans can play a big role in helping Coach 'Muss' win this honor and I just want to encourage them to show their support by participating in the fan voting,” Faison added.
– Go Sioux –