Chattanooga, TN (Sports Network) -
New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell was named the 19th winner of the Eddie Robinson Award 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.
New Hampshire?s 10-1 regular season mark was its best since 1994, and the Wildcats also claimed a share of the Colonial Athletic (formerly Atlantic 10) title for the first time since that season. New Hampshire finished sixth in the nation with 470.8 yards per contest, and ranked third nationally with 42.4 points per game. Quarterback Ricky Santos and wide receiver David Ball both made the final Walter Payton Award watch list, and the Wildcats held the No. 1 ranking for five weeks during the season.
New Hampshire notched a road win against UC Davis to open the season, and then recorded at least 45 points in wins against Towson, Dartmouth and Villanova. After a loss at William & Mary, the Wildcats topped the 50-point mark in wins against Rhode Island and Northeastern to set up a showdown at Massachusetts. Ranked No. 4 at the time, the Wildcats defeated the No. 7 Minutemen, 34-28, to gain the inside track in the Colonial Athletic race. New Hampshire earned the No.1 ranking after knocking off Hofstra the next week, and closed the season with home wins against Iona and Maine. New Hampshire scored 50 points or more in five contests, and outscored opponents by 20 points per game.
A native of Saratoga Springs, New York, McDonnell has a 43-37 record in seven seasons as the head coach of the Wildcats. After recording a 23-33 record in his first five years, McDonnell has led New Hampshire to a 20-4 record in the last two seasons.
McDonnell is the third Colonial Athletic head coach to win the Robinson Award, and first since James Madison?s Mickey Matthews in 1999. He is the eighth overall honoree from the conference, and takes home the second major FCS award from New Hampshire. Wildcat running back Jerry Azumah claimed the Payton Award in 1998.
McDonnell received 27 first-place votes and 295 points from the panel of 113 FCS sports information directors and selected media. Following McDonnell in the voting was Hampton head coach Joe Taylor, who earned 16 first-place votes and 259 total points. Texas State?s David Bailiff was third with seven first-place votes and 192 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.