SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS - Sam Houston State University's Willie Fritz has been named as the American Football Coaches Association 2012 Football Championship Subdivision "Coach of the Year."
Fritz was one of five outstanding coaches honored today at the 2012 AFCA convention in San Antonio.
LSU's Les Miles, Fritz, Wayne State's Paul Winters, Wisconsin-Whitewater's Lance Leipold and Saint Xavier's Mike Feminis are the 2011 AFCA National Coach of the Year winners -- Miles in FBS, Fritz in FCS, Winters in Division II, Leipold in Division III and Feminis in NAIA.
The winners are selected by a vote of the Active AFCA members (coaches at four-year schools) in the Association's five divisions. The AFCA has named a Coach of the Year since 1935. The AFCA Coach of the Year award is the oldest and most prestigious of all the Coach of the Year awards and is the only one chosen exclusively by the coaches themselves.
The winners were honored Tuesday evening at the AFCA Coach of the Year Dinner at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. A total of 149 men representing 107 institutions have been honored by the AFCA as AFCA National Coach of the Year since the program was established in 1935.
"This is a tremendous honor for our football program," Fritz said. "I didn't get into coaching to win awards and honors. I'm humbled and honored. It's a tribute to our staff. It means a lot to be recognized by your peers."
In 2011, Fritz led the Bearkats to a 14-1 record, a Southland Conference title and an appearance in the Football Championship Subdivision national title game. In two years at Same Houston State, Fritz owns a 20-6 record and an overall record of 117-53 at both Sam Houston State and Central Missouri. The national title appearance is a first for the football program.
The Bearkats' 14 victories in 2011 are the most wins in one season in Sam Houston State history. Counting the final two games of the 2010 season, Sam Houston took a 16-game winning streak into the title game in Frisco Jan. 7.
Sam Houston's 20-6 record in Fritz's two years at the university rank as the most wins in a two-year period in the program's 96 seasons of college football.
Fritz earned Southland Conference "Coach of the Year" and AFCA "Regional Coach of the Year" honors this fall as well.
Sam Houston's 2011 Southland Conference football championship is the program's fourth in 25 years in the league. However, the first three titles were co-championships, making this year's championship the Bearkats' first undisputed league crown.
In rolling to their 14-1 record, Sam Houston defeated five nationally ranked FCS opponents and also posted an overtime road victory over FBS foe New Mexico.
Fifteen Sam Houston State players earned All-Southland Conference honors and five received All-America recognition. Running back Tim Flanders was the Southland "Player of the Year", wide receiver Richard Sincere was league "Offensive Player of the Year" and safety Darnell Taylor was "Defensive Player of the Year."
The Bearkats excelled academically as well. Sam Houston State placed seven student-athletes on the 2011 Academic All-Southland football honor squad. Senior center Travis Watson was named as Southland Conference football "Student Athlete of the Year."