Fellowship of Christian Athletes Presents Coach of the Year, Athlete of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Honors.
By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor FaithINspires.Org
(Kansas City) This morning at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, http://www.fca.org) Breakfast at the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Convention in Louisville, Ky., FCA honored Clemson University Head Coach Dabo Swinney as the recipient of the 2014 Grant Teaff Coach of the Year Award and longtime college coach Art Baker with the 2014 Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award. Just a day earler at the College Championship Breakfast FCA presented the 2014 Seminole Tribe of Florida Bobby Bowden Student Athlete of the Year Award to Bryce Petty of Baylor University.
“This morning, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes honored two coaching greats who have not only put many W’s in the win column, but also impacted countless players during their careers,” said Les Steckel, President and CEO of FCA. “We congratulate Clemson University Head Coach Dabo Swinney and longtime coaching great Art Baker for their many, many contributions to college football.”
Former FCA President Dal Shealy, who remains involved in football ministry, said of Baker: “Art has been involved in FCA for almost 60 years and has been one of the most faithful and committed Christian coaching men I have ever known. He has been an outstanding coach at each football game in which he has served, both as an assistant and as a head coach.”
Of Swinney, Shealy added: “Dabo is a man who teaches and coaches with character. He is a family man and a player’s coach, and he stands tall for Christ in everything he does.”
Named after Grant Teaff, former Baylor University coach, AFCA executive director and Trustee Emeritus of the FCA Board of Trustees, the Coach of the Year Award presented by FCA recognizes a football coach who exemplifies Christian principles and who is involved in FCA. The award is also based on the success and performance of the coach’s team that season. Previous winners include Tommy Bowden, Tommy Tuberville and Jerry Kill.
The Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a coach who has committed his life to being a Christian influence in the lives of student-athletes. Previous winners include Jimmie Keeling, Fisher DeBerry, Jerry Moore, Mel Tjeerdsma, Houston Nutt, Tony Dungy and Ken Sparks.
Dabo Swinney, at Clemson for just seven years as head coach, is making progress toward joining the university’s coaching legends of the past. In 2014, he led the Tigers to a 10-3 record, along with a win over Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Over the past several seasons, Clemson has earned two top-10 rankings in the USA Today poll. From 2011-13, Clemson had a 32-8 record, the most wins in a three-year period in school history. Swinney has also led the Tigers to two ACC Championship games, winning one, and has won or shared three ACC Atlantic Division titles.
Swinney has been a four-time finalist for the Liberty Mutual National Coach of the Year Award, which evaluates coaching performances in terms of coaching excellence, sportsmanship, integrity, academic excellence and community commitment. In 2013, he was also one of 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club Collegiate Coach of the Year Award for the second year in a row. Swinney was also named the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year in 2011, as well as a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year and the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year awards.
Swinney is active in his community through his foundation, which made the first contribution to the cancer fund established for former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. Many schools followed his lead.
The 1993 Alabama graduate and wide receiver on Alabama’s 1992 National Championship team first joined the Clemson staff prior to the 2003 season, and has a reputation as one of the top recruiters in the nation. In 2006, he was listed as the No. 5 recruiter in the nation by Rivals.com and signed 38 players in his five recruiting seasons as an assistant coach.
Longtime coaching great Art Baker is a former head coach for Furman (1973-1977), The Citadel (1978-1982) and East Carolina (1985-1988). He is a 1953 graduate of Presbyterian College, where he also played football and served as an assistant coach.
Baker served as an assistant coach for Frank Howard at Clemson University from 1965-1969, at Texas Tech from 1970-1972, when he succeeded Bob King at Furman, and for Bobby Bowden at Florida State in 1984. As a head coach at Furman, Baker hired assistant coaches Dick Sheridan, Jimmy Satterfield and Bobby Johnson, who all later became Furman head coaches.
Baker closed out his career on June 30, 1995, when he retired after six years as Associate Athletics Director for Development and Gamecock Club Director at the University of South Carolina.
The Florida Bobby Bowden Student Athlete of the Year Award was presented the day before at the College Championship Breakfast the at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dallas.
The 2014 recipient is Bryce Petty, quarterback for Baylor University and a Midlothian, Texas, native. Petty was a candidate for the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, the Manning Award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Big 12 Player of the Year. He completed 36 of 51 passes for 550 yards at the very close 42-41 loss to Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Bobby Bowden, former longtime head coach at Florida State University, was the featured speaker at the awards breakfast. Bowden amassed a career head coaching record of 410-141-1 and is the winningest coach in major college football. FCA President and CEO Les Steckel also gave brief remarks at the breakfast.
“Sunday’s Bobby Bowden Awards Breakfast was a celebration of student-athletes across the nation, many of whom will go on to become professional men and women, parents and community leaders,” Steckel said. “We congratulate Bryce for his stellar season, his leadership on and off the field and his academic achievements.”
Speaking to Baylor of the award, Petty said, “This is meaningful for me for two reasons. First it’s an award about Christ, and to me that’s the ultimate prize anyway – when we talk about success, it needs to be credited to the One who has enabled us to have success.
“Second, the platform we have as football players is not to be taken for granted. Too often, players think it’s just about them and get too caught up in thinking that all have the same opportunity and that’s not true. We’ve been given a great opportunity – we need to keep it in perspective – it’s not just about wins on the field, it’s as much about off the field accomplishments.”
The other two finalists for the award were:
Mark Murphy, safety for Indiana University and an Akron, Ohio, native who started 42 of his 47 career games. He recorded 279 tackles and two interception touchdown returns in 2014 and became the third Hoosier to collect Capital One Academic All-America honors twice. This season, he also earned the National Football Foundation’s Scholar-Athlete Award, and was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy and a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award, the AFCA Good Works Team and the Wuerffel Trophy.
Deterrian “D.T.” Shackelford, linebacker for Ole Miss and a Decatur, Ala., native who was named to the preseason watch list for the Lott IMPACT Trophy for the second straight year and became the first ever two-time recipient of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. He was also the Wuerffel Trophy winner, the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team Captain and earned Capital One Academic All-District VI honors.
The Bobby Bowden Award recognizes the Football Bowl Subdivision player who epitomizes a student-athlete. He must conduct himself as an exemplary model in the classroom, on the field, on campus and in the community.
The award, sponsored by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, was conceived by Vince Gibson, a former Bowden assistant at South Georgia College who went on to become head coach at Kansas State, Louisville and Tulane before he passed away in 2012 from Lou Gehrig’s disease; and Vernon Brinson, one of Bowden’s former players at South Georgia College in the 1950s.
Past winners of the Bobby Bowden Award have included: Jason Wright, Northwestern University (2003); Billy Bajema, Oklahoma State University (2004); D.J. Shockley, University of Georgia (2005); Carl Pendleton, University of Oklahoma (2006); Jacob Tamme, University of Kentucky (2007); Stephen McGee, Texas A&M (2008); Colt McCoy, University of Texas (2009); Christian Ponder, Florida State University (2010); Case Keenum, University of Houston (2011); Ashton Richardson, Auburn University (2012); and Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (2013).