2007, University of Dayton
Coming off a season where it won a share of the Pioneer Football League championship, captured the Gridiron Classic and went 11-1, Dayton was honored as the winner of the 2007 Sports Network Cup.
The award is emblematic of the top FCS mid-major program. The Flyers captured all 30 first-place votes and 300 points in the final balloting of sports information directors and selected media members.
Veteran Dayton coach Mike Kelly accepted the trophy at the 21st annual Sports Network Awards dinner. Kelly previously led the Flyers to the Sports Network Cup in 2002.
Dayton finished the season ranked first nationally in sacks (four per game), second in rushing defense (allowing just 75.4 yards per game), fourth in total defense (271.5 yards), fourth in scoring defense (15.6 points) and seventh in tackles for loss.
The Flyers were also strong offensively, ranking fifth in passing (299.5 yards), sixth in scoring (38.8 points) and ninth in total offense (452.8 yards).
2006, University of San Diego
The Toreros, who garnered all 20 first-place votes and 200 total points in the final balloting conducted among Mid-Major sports information directors and selected media members, earn their second consecutive Sports Network Cup. San Diego held the No. 1 spot for all 13 weeks of the season. The Toreros solidified their No. 1 ranking right away by stomping Azuza Pacific and Dixie State. A trip to Yale was next on the agenda. Quarterback Josh Johnson had a brilliant day with 28-of-35 passing for 345 yards and four touchdowns and 70 rushing yards and one touchdown as the Toreros won, 43-17, against a Yale team that went on to finish 8-2 and grabbed a share of the Ivy League title.
2005, University of San Diego
Led by head coach Jim Harbaugh, the Toreros were ranked No. 7 in the preseason Mid-Major poll but jumped out of the gate to win the first two games against Asuza Pacific and Southern Oregon by a combined score of 81-6. A pair of major tests came next, and the Toreros were up to the challenge. San Diego scored the last 17 points of the game and defeated Yale, 17-14, before coming one interception away from beating Princeton in a 20-17 loss. The Toreros earned the No. 2 ranking after the 3-1 start, and kept their name at the top by continuing the roll on offense. San Diego scored a 56-0 victory against Menlo and defeated Butler, 49-7, to set up a showdown at No. 1 Dayton. The Flyers held a 24-20 halftime lead, but the Toreros charged ahead in the second half by notching 28 consecutive points to score a 48-24 victory. The victory lifted San Diego to the No. 1 position in the Mid-Major poll, and the Toreros would never relinquish that spot.
2004, Monmouth University
Monmouth claimed the school?s first-ever Sports Network Cup by winning games in dramatic fashion and finishing the season with a seven-game winning streak. The Hawks? 10-1 record included three wins on the final play of the game. Monmouth defeated Robert Morris, 29-27, when wide receiver Tim Hiltwine came down with a 32-yard touchdown catch on a tipped ball. Placekicker Steve Andriola nailed last-second field goals to beat Albany and Central Connecticut State. The Hawks moved to No. 1 in the Mid-Major poll after the win against Central Connecticut State, and held the top spot by beating Sacred Heart (28-10) and St. Francis (PA) (49-39). Monmouth captured its second straight Northeast Conference championship. Callahan has directed the Hawks since the inception of the program in 1993, and has a 69-50 record in his first 12 campaigns.
2003, Duquesne University
Duquesne finished 8-3 in 2003, a mark that included a fifth straight MAAC title and an important victory over Monmouth in the ECAC Football Classic. The Dukes were nothing short of dominant in the MAAC, outscoring five conference opponents by a composite of 210-70 and never allowing an opponent to finish a game within single digits. Offensively, the Dukes were led by the trusty right arm of quarterback Niel Loebig, who threw for over 3,000 yards and had 25 touchdown passes. An underrated defense, one that allowed Duquesne to gut out victories like the 12-10 nail-biter over Monmouth, was led by standouts such as end Phil Polony (47 tackles, 4 sacks). Head Coach Greg Gattuso?s club gave up just 18.4 points per game on the year, a figure that ranked in the national Top 20.
2002, University of Dayton
Dayton won its first-ever Sports Network Cup in 2002, finishing as FCS's top mid-major program following an 11-1 campaign. The Flyers mowed down opponent after opponent during the season, winning their 11 games by an average of 28.4 points and shutting out four different foes. In the Pioneer Football League title game, the Flyers blanked PFL South champ Morehead State, 28-0, wrapping up the school's fourth consecutive conference title. Among the defensive leaders were safety and Buck Buchanan Award candidate Mark Kasmer (11 INT, 91 tackles), while quarterback Kelly Spiker (863 rushing yards, 9 TD), the PFL North Offensive Player of the Year, led the ground charge along with running backs Geno Mattioda (513 yards, 12 TD) and Cliff Sachini (694 yards, 8 TD).
2001, Sacred Heart University
Sacred Heart won the inaugural Sports Network Cup after compiling a perfect 11-0 record, including an 8-0 mark in the Northeast Conference and a victory over Duquesne in the ECAC Bowl. Jim Fleming's team won each of its games by double figures, ranking second in the nation with 41.9 points per contest. Quarterback Justin Holtfreter (2581 passing yards, 26 TD, 9 INT), tailback Marvin Royal (1043 rushing yards, 16 TD), and wideout DeVeren Johnson (1157 receiving yards, 13 TD) were among the offensive standouts, while linebacker Kayode Mayowa (93 tackles, 4 sacks, 3 INT) flourished on defense. Johnson was selected in the 6th round of the 2002 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Fleming departed after '01 to become an assistant at North Carolina.
Samuel G. Freedman's "Breaking The Line" vividly recreates the world of black college football in the civil rights era with a gripping chronicle of the 1967 season for coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State and Alonzo S. "Jake" Gaither at Florida A&M.