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Big Rapids, Mich. - Second-year Ferris State University Football Head Coach Tony Annese has been announced as one of the top 15 leaders to date for the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award at the Division II level.
The award honors the college football coach who best exemplifies responsibility and excellence both on and off the field. A selection committee including members of the College Football Hall of Fame, the national media and fans help choose the winner.
A year ago, Annese was among the national semifinalists for the award in his initial season at the Bulldog helm.
Annese is currently among 15 Division II finalists recognized as the top vote-getters in their respective division as part of the fan voting portion of the award. The finalists will be announced on Dec. 4 for each level.
This past season, Annese led the Bulldogs to an 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the GLIAC North Division standings. FSU, which finished the year riding a four-game winning streak, narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years.
The Bulldogs' eight-win campaign was the school's first since 2006 and only the second in the program's last 16 seasons. FSU's eight league wins were also its most since 1996.
This year marked the second consecutive year in which FSU broke the school single-season rushing record under Annese as Ferris State finished the 2013 season with a program-best 3,491 yards on the ground.
The Bulldogs led the GLIAC and ranked sixth nationally in rushing offense with a school-record 317.4 yards per game. FSU was also the league leader and 12th nationally in total offense with an average of 492.5 yards per contest. Ferris State finished second in the country in third down conversion percentage (.497). The Bulldogs also ranked as the GLIAC's second-highest scoring offense (38.8 ppg.) and were among the top 30 in the nation.
A longtime coach, Annese guided the Bulldogs to a 7-4 overall mark in his first campaign in 2012 and FSU ranked among the nation's top teams in both rushing offense and total offense.
Last season, the Bulldogs recorded several impressive wins under Annese's direction, including beating rival Grand Valley State for the first time since 1999, snapping a 10-year losing streak to Michigan Tech and topping defending national runner-up Wayne State for the first time in five years. FSU also faced one of the nation's two toughest schedules in Division II football during the regular-season, according to the Massey Ratings.
Prior to taking over the Bulldog program, Annese spent 25 seasons as a head coach on the prep level in Michigan along with three highly-successful seasons at Grand Rapids Community College. He's recorded more than 230 all-time wins, made 15 prep playoff appearances and won a combined five prep and JUCO national or state titles.
Annese was a three-time junior college region coach of the year and a three-time Michigan High School Football Coach Association Coach of the Year winner. Additionally, he was a finalist for the 2009 National High School Athletic Coaches Association Football Coach of the Year honor and inducted into the Michigan High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2011.
Fan voting decides the top 15 coaches from each division who qualify for an objective scoring model endorsed by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. The model will produce ten finalists from Division I-FBS and five finalist coaches from each of the three other divisions, based on the criteria including sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence both on and off the field.
The winners will be selected based on a formula that includes 20% of a fan vote, 55% by a College Hall of Fame selection committee and 25% from national media votes.
Active football coaches in all NCAA divisions with a winning record are eligible to receive the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. The winner in each division is chosen using a combination of fan votes and votes received from members of the 2013 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Selection Committee.
After the evaluation period, finalist voting takes place during the month of December and a winner announced in early January, 2014.
As the program sponsor, Liberty Mutual will award funds to support the winning coach's civic and charitable activities along with scholarships to the alumni association of the winning coach's school