Academy Board of Trustee Chairman Robert Campbell, Esq., presents the 2011 Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award to Auburn University head football coach Gene Chizik, whose team won the BCS National Championship over Oregon University in January.
Auburn University head football coach Gene Chizik joined a prestigious group of college and professional coaches when he received the United States Sports Academy’s 2011 Amos Alonzo Stagg Coaching Award on Monday at the Daphne, Ala., university.
“I’m very honored to wear this medal and I’m very honored to receive this award, especially with the prestigious people who have received this award before me,” said Chizik, who earned the award for guiding Auburn to a perfect 14-0 record and Bowl Championship Series (BCS) National Championship this past season. “What a great honor. It’s a testament to a great group of people that I’m around on a daily basis. This is not about me. I receive these very humbly and I’m very appreciative of the opportunity, but at the end of the day it’s really about a whole lot of people—coaches, administrators, players. So really, I receive these on behalf of everybody else.”
The annual coaching award goes to an individual who has experienced outstanding achievement as coach and who exhibits a high standard of propriety, imagination, and innovation as a character-builder in the tradition of great teacher-coaches. Past recipients of the award include the first winner in 1985, Grambling State University head football coach Eddie Robinson, who is the second all-time winningest college football coach. Other college football coach award winners include Penn State University coach Joe Paterno, former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden and University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who won the award the year before after leading his team to the BCS National Championship.
The award ceremony for Chizik in the Academy’s packed main gallery included Auburn supporters ranging in age from 3 to 91. During the 30-minute presentation, Chizik received a key to the City of Daphne from City Councilman Ron Scott and a sculpture from world-renowned, Fairhope sculptor Bruce Larsen, who is also an Auburn graduate. Academy Board of Trustee Chairman Robert Campbell, Esq., gave Chizik the Order of the Eagle Exemplar with Rosette for winning the Stagg award.
In just his second season as Auburn University’s head football coach, Chizik, a 23-year coaching veteran, led his team to an undefeated season and a victory over the University of Oregon in the BCS title game. That game was selected as the Academy’s 2010 College Football Game of the Year.
Auburn’s 2010 season was arguably one of the best in school history. Auburn’s schedule included 10 games against bowl-eligible teams and Auburn was the only team in the country that won seven games against teams ranked in college football’s Top 25 poll. Plus, the season produced Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, who played quarterback. Chizik also won many accolades following the 2010 national title, including four National Coach of the Year honors.
“I’m very appreciative of all the Auburn people who showed up here,” Chizik said. “I’m very appreciative to represent such a great institution.”
Chizik also thanked the Academy and Larsen, the Academy’s 2009 Sport Artist of the Year. Larsen, who graduated in 1987 from Auburn with a bachelor’s in fine arts, created a “War Eagle” sculpture out of driftwood from the Fish River that runs behind his Fairhope home. He used other recycled material, too, such as a hubcap for the beak, a piece of a Hoover vacuum, a bed post and old cast iron lamp stands.
“Bruce, I’m honored by the sculpture. It’s incredible,” Chizik said. “This is my first visit to the Academy. What a phenomenal sports environment. I see that you take a lot of pride in who you are and what you do.”