Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) -
Southern Illinois head coach Jerry Kill was named the 18th winner of the Eddie Robinson Award Thursday night at the FCS College Football Awards held in Chattanooga, TN on the eve of the FCS national championship. The Robinson Award is presented annually to the top head coach in FCS.
After a 5-18 mark in his first two seasons, Kill turned the program around with a 10-2 mark in 2003. He moved Southern Illinois to an even higher level this season. The Salukis? 10-1 regular season mark is impressive enough as it is, but considering the way the Salukis won many of those contests makes the record even more amazing. The Salukis? only loss came by one point to FBS Northern Illinois, and a near miss on a two-point conversion prevented Southern Illinois from upsetting the eventual MAC West co-champion.
"It is an honor to win this individual award, but it is really a tribute to our players and coaching staff. Their self-sacrifice and dedication are the reason we've been able to turn this program around. We are a family, and I will proudly accept the award on behalf of our Saluki football family,? said Kill.
Under Kill?s guidance, the Salukis went a perfect 9-0 against FCS opponents and outscored competitors by more than 30 points per game. Southern Illinois won the final nine contests of the season, and finished a perfect 7-0 in Gateway Conference games. The Salukis paid back their lone regular season loss of 2003 with a 40-36 win against Northern Iowa, then crushed playoff participant Western Kentucky, 38-10. The Salukis held a 166-37 edge in their final three regular season games. Southern Illinois earned the No. 1 ranking for the final 10 weeks of the year, and garnered the No. 1 seed in the 2004 postseason.
A native of Cheney, Kansas, Kill went into the postseason with a record of 25-21 in four seasons at Southern Illinois.
Kill is the second coach from a Gateway Conference school to win the Eddie Robinson Award, and first since Youngstown State?s Jim Tressel won the honor in 1994. It is the first major FCS award of any kind for Southern Illinois.
Kill received 25 first-place votes and 244 points from the panel of 92 FCS sports information directors and selected media. Following Kill in the voting was Harvard head coach Tim Murphy, who earned 18 first-place votes and 206 total points. Sam Houston State?s Ron Randleman was third with 14 first-place votes and 162 total points.
The Eddie Robinson Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network. The Award is named for legendary head coach Eddie Robinson, who retired in 1997 after 57 years at Grambling State University.