Dec. 9, 2002
ATLANTA – University of Notre Dame head football coach Tyrone Willingham will be named The Home Depot National “Coach of the Year” during a live telecast scheduled to air on ESPN this week, it was announced Monday.
Willingham had an outstanding first season at Notre Dame. In addition to compiling a 10-2 regular-season record and earning a berth in the Toyota Gator Bowl, he became the first coach in the heralded history of Notre Dame football to win 10 games in his first season. He also has guided the Irish to the third-best turnaround in school history (+4.5 games).
“To be named Home Depot ‘Coach of the Year’ is an honor, but in choosing the word ‘honor,’ it falls short of the respect and emotions that I feel for this award and its presentation,” Willingham said. “It would be a stretch to say that I thought this day could happen in my life. However, because of the work, courage and character of the Notre Dame family, coaches and players, it is a reality.
“Thank you Home Depot for your involvement in college football,” he continued. “With the knowledge that I am fortunate to be a part of the greatest game in which a young man can learn life’s lessons, I accept the ‘Coach of the Year’ Award on behalf of the University of Notre Dame football program and its many supporters.”
“Home Depot is proud to sponsor this award and recognizes the hard work, team work and determination Coach Willingham displayed in motivating his team and putting together an excellent 2002 season,” said John Costello, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, The Home Depot. Costello will present the top award to Willingham during the ESPN telecast, which will air from 7-9 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Dec. 12.
In addition to The Home Depot Coach of the Year award, other top awards during the telecast will include: The Maxwell Award (best-all-around player); Chuck Bednarik Trophy (best defensive player); Outland Trophy (best interior lineman); Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award; Doak Walker Award (best running back); Biletnikoff Award (best wide receiver); Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back); Lou Groza Award (best placekicker); Ray Guy Award (best punter); Disney’s Wide World of Sports Spirit Award (most inspirational player or team); and the Walter Camp All-America Team. New this year will be the NCFAA Contribution to College Football Award, which will recognize an individual who has made significant contributions to the college game.
The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award for Division I-A is selected by ESPN and ABC college football analysts. Past winners include Bobby Bowden of Florida State (1994), Gary Barnett of Northwestern (1995), Rich Brooks of Oregon (1996), Mike Price of Washington State (1997), Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee (1998), Tom Osborne of Nebraska (Coach of the Decade in 1999), Bob Stoops of Oklahoma (2000) and Ralph Friedgen of Maryland (2001). This is the ninth year the company has sponsored The Home Depot College Football Awards on ESPN.
— ND —