St. Thomas coach repeats as Liberty Mutual national winner

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Tommie head football coach Glenn Caruso made history today: He was introduced in New Orleans as the first two-time recipient in the six-year history of the elite national Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year honor.

After a record-setting season marked by St. Thomas' first trip to the semifinal round of the NCAA playoffs, Caruso today was named Liberty Mutual's Division III winner for 2011.

The program is among the top college football honors and recognizes coaches for sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence, on and off field. 

In January 2011, at age 36, Caruso became the youngest recipient of the award. This year he again rose above a group of four other Division III coach finalists -- Bethel's Steve Johnson; Lance Leipold of UW-Whitewater; Keith Emery of Western New England; and Stan Sweifel of Dubuque.

The additional 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year winners from other NCAA football divisions are Les Miles, Louisiana State (FBS); Rob Ash, Montana State University (FCS); and Tim Beck, Pittsburg (Kan.) State University (Division II).

For the second year in a row, the St. Thomas community helped elevate Coach Caruso as he received the most fan support in the Dec. 6-22 online voting at Fan votes contributed 20 percent to each coach's final score, and the media and College Football Hall of Fame ballots accounted for 25 percent and 55 percent, respectively. 

Caruso will again be honored in the permanent Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year display at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind.  In addition, Liberty Mutual will make a $50,000 charitable donation on his behalf, which Coach Caruso has designated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; Bucky's Pride, which supports families who are dealing with blood disorders; and the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Upper Midwest, located in Minneapoilis just four miles from UST's campus. 

Off the field, Caruso and his program make a great impact in St. Paul and beyond. With his financial award as the 2010 Liberty Mutual winner, Caruso founded "Bucky's Pride." He is a founder of a Reading Recess program, and the Tommie players and he participated in the Up 'Til Dawn Benefit writing 2,000 letters to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. He also hold an annual youth football camp, and is active in state and national coaching organizations at several levels.

Liberty Mutual also will make a $20,000 scholarship donation to the St. Thomas Alumni Association in Coach Caruso's name. 

Previous LM Coach of the Year winners, from all divisions, include St. John's John Gagliardi (2007); Alabama's Nick Saban (2008); Mount Union's Larry Kehres (2008); Texas Christian's Gary Patterson (2009); and Auburn's Gene Chizik (2010).

Caruso has done something unheard of in college football coaching: He has improved his record in each of his first six seasons as a head coach. He inherited a Macalester program that was 0-9 the previous fall and guided the Scots to records of 2-7 then 4-5. He took over a St. Thomas program coming off a 2-8 season and has posted records of 7-3, 11-2, 12-1 and 13-1 in four seasons here.

This year, Caruso led St. Thomas to a school-record 13 wins, the Division III semifinals, and earned a season-ending ranking of No. 4 in the nation. UST had a record five All-America honorees and also had two players named to the Capital One Academic All-America team. The No. 3 national ranking that held for much of the season was St. Thomas football's best ever.

St. Thomas has claimed back-to-back conference championships, the school's first since 1948 and 1949. It became the first team in MIAC history to post back-to-back 10-0 records in the regular season.

This is Caruso's second national award for 2011, as he recently was chosen as Division III National Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly.

This marks the fourth time in the last three years -- and eighth time in the last 11 seasons -- that a St. Thomas head coach has been named a national Coach of the Year.