Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly gets coaching award

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was guaranteed to take home a trophy even before his team stepped on the Sun Life Stadium field Monday night.

Earlier in the day, Kelly was one of four coaches named Liberty Mutual Coaches of the Year.

Kelly was the winner selected among coaches at the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

The event selected winners for all four college divisions, also honoring Sam Houston State coach Willie Fritz (FCS), University of New Haven (Conn.) coach Peter Rossomando (Division II) and University of St. Thomas (Minn.) coach Glenn Caruso (Division III).

The honorees were presented with trophies at a ceremony hosted by NFL great Archie Manning and held at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 hotel in Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Among the finalists for the FBS award with Kelly were Alabama coach Nick Saban, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, UCLA’s Jim Mora, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Georgia’s Mark Richt, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Louisville’s Charlie Strong.

Kelly was unable to attend the ceremony as the team prepared for the game, but recorded a video message that was played after the announcement.

“This is an individual award, but I wouldn’t be here without the great staff, great assistant coaches and great group of young men we have at Notre Dame,” said Kelly in the video.

“These young men have committed to be the best they can be on and off the field. We’re proud of our graduation rates being No. 1 again and now we’re fighting to be No. 1 on the football field.”

The award, which Liberty Mutual began in 2006, is meant to honor academic and athletic excellence.

It also recognizes charitable endeavors by the recipients. The winners will receive a $50,000 donation to the charities of their choice and a $20,000 scholarship grant in their name to their school’s alumni association.

Kelly guided Notre Dame to a 12-0 record entering Monday night’s game and within a victory of winning a national championship for the first time since 1988.

Notre Dame’s graduation rate also ranked No. 1 nationally.

Kelly and his wife, Paqui, created the Kelly Cares Foundation to support several health initiatives, including breast cancer research.

The other winners also helped rebuild their programs and worked with several charities off the field.

Caruso won the Division III award for the third consecutive season. He led St. Thomas to a 14-1 record and a No. 2 national ranking, and his teams have won a combined 50 games since he took over the program in 2007 after it had won only two games the previous season.

Caruso started a foundation called “Bucky’s Pride” in honor of his father, Frank, to support families of children fighting cancer and blood diseases. Caruso is a leukemia survivor who was diagnosed at age 4.

Fritz guided Sam Houston State to 31 victories during the past two seasons and back-to-back appearances in the FCS championship game.

In his first two seasons as the coach at Sam Houston State, 70 of his players earned Southland Conference academic recognition. Fritz raises funds for Ronald McDonald House and the Wounded Warrior Project.

Rossomando guided New Haven to a 10-1 record and a No. 8 national ranking in the AFCA Division II poll. Among his off-the-field endeavors, Rossomando created a memorial fund dedicated to the memory of his brother, Nicholas, a New York City firefighter who lost his life on Sept. 11, 2001.

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