WACO, Tex. — University of La Verne Football Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Oscar Rodriguez has been named the 2017 American Football Coaches Association Division III Coach of the Year the AFCA office announced Wednesday morning.
The AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement. One assistant coach from each collegiate football division (Football Bowl Subdivision, Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III, NAIA) is recognized.
Rodriguez is the first coach from the University of La Verne and just the second from the SCIAC to earn the honor.
"It's very humbling," said Rodriguez. "It's more about the people around me than it is about me. Anytime you get recognized nationally it's about the people who help you grow. You're only as good as your players and I have great players."
Rodriguez orchestrated a Leopards' defense that led the SCIAC in defensive touchdowns and tied for second in sacks in conference play. The Leopards gave up the fewest yards per game in the conference at just 383.3 total yards.
La Verne ranked third in the conference in forced turnovers with 10 and rush yards allowed per game at 155.2.
"This award is about the University of La Verne and the La Verne football team," said Rodriguez. "It's a credit to what we are building and where we are headed. It says a lot about our players. If you have good people you have good players, it's a direct correlation in the end."
The Leopards' defense made their biggest impact in a 28-27 win over Cal Lutheran where they allowed just 29 yards on the ground. Defensive back Torii Hilbert picked off a pass that he returned for a touchdown to spark La Verne's comeback. The Leopards forced a fumble on the Kingsmen next possession that set up the game-winning touchdown.
"This is a well-deserved recognition," said La Verne Football Head Coach Chris Krich. "Coach Rodriguez works extremely hard both on and off the field. This award should come as no surprise to the people who know him and work with him."
Winners of the Assistant Coach of the Year Award will receive a plaque to commemorate their recognition. They will be honored at the AFCA Honors Luncheon, Monday, January 8, during the 2018 AFCA Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
About the AFCA
The AFCA was founded in 1922 and currently has more than 11,000 members around the world, ranging from the high school level to the professional ranks. According to its constitution, the AFCA was formed, in part, to "maintain the highest possible standards in football and the coaching profession" and to "provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to football and coaching."