St. Thomas head football coach Glenn Caruso, who guided the Tommies to an NCAA runner-up finish, on Tuesday was announced as Division III National Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches’ Association (AFCA). The elite award is voted on by fellow Division III coaches.
He’s just the third Division III honoree in the 30-year history of the AFCA award to lead the voting without winning the NCAA championship.
Caruso has built a 57-8 record in five seasons at at St. Thomas, with four NCAA playoff berths and an 11-4 postseason mark.
Caruso and his staff graduated four All-Americas and lost several players to injuries yet were able to guide St. Thomas to a school-record 14 wins and the program’s first trip to the NCAA championship game.
The Tommies lost 28-10 to 11-time national champion Mount Union in December’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. St. Thomas earned a season-ending AFCA ranking of No. 2 in the nation, a program best. UST had four All-America honorees.
St. Thomas has claimed three consecutive conference championships, the school’s first such streak since 1947-1949. It became the first team in MIAC history to post three consecutive 10-0 records in the regular season. UST’s 2010 conference football championship was St. Thomas’ first since 1990.
The other 2012 AFCA Coach of the Year winners announced today are Brian Kelly, Notre Dame (FBS); Craig Bohl, North Dakota State (FCS); David Dean, Valdosta State (Division II); and Steve Ryan, Moringside (NAIA).
Caruso, 38, is believed to be the first AFCA recipient who played in college for an AFCA National Coach of the Year. His mentor at Ithaca College, Jim Butterfield, was a two-time honoree.
Out of 639 NCAA programs, he’s one of just three head coaches – joining Mount Union’s Larry Kehres and Boise State’s Chris Petersen -- to lead the same school to 11 or more wins in each of the last four seasons.
The 2012 Tommies had the most home-field victories in all of NCAA football (9-0 record).
Caruso was announced Monday as the Liberty Mutual Division III National Coach of the Year. A three-time honoree, he’s Liberty Mutual’s only multiple winner in any division in the award’s seven-year history. Caruso also was named Division III Coach of the Year in 2011 by American Football Monthly magazine.
Caruso has done something unheard of in college football coaching: He has improved his record in each of his first seven 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, 13-1 and 14-1 in five seasons here.
In five seasons under Caruso, UST football has won CoSIDA Academic All-America honors five times; had one National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete; has had three Gagliardi Trophy semifinalists; had three AFCA Good Works Team honorees; and on the field has had two conference Player of the Year recipients and 11 players combine to win All-America honors a total of 16 times.
He’s coached five winners of the Rimington Award recognizing the top center in each of four levels of college football.
Caruso has been voted the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in each of the last three seasons. Prior to 2012, the last Tommie football coach so honored was in 1993.
His Tommie teams have been a model of consistency as they’ve led in the second half or overtime in 62 of the 65 games.
St. Thomas isn't Caruso's first turnaround. In his 16-year coaching career he has helped resurrect three other football programs. He also has developed a national reputation for installing dynamic, high-scoring attacks on offense.
The Greenwich, Ct., native played on two state championship football teams at Greenwich High, and has many family members and a vast support system living in that area.
He went on to Ithaca (N.Y.) College, where he was a starter on the offensive line (center) and helped the Bombers make two NCAA Division III playoff trips and post a 30-13 record in his four-year era. He spent one season as a graduate assistant coach at Ithaca, where he coached the offensive line.
Coach Caruso has mentored 15 offensive players who signed pro contracts, including current NFL kick-return standout Stefan Logan of the Detroit Lions.
This marks the fifth time in the last four years -- and ninth time in the last 12 seasons -- that a St. Thomas head coach has been honored as a national Coach of the Year.
1956: Frank Deig, Football (National Small College Coach of the Year)
1991: Ted Riverso, Women's Basketball
1992: Dave Orren, Volleyball (AVCA)
1995: Joe Sweeney, Women's Track and Field (USTFCCCA)
2001: Dennis Denning, Baseball (ABCA)
2004: John Tschida, Softball (NFCA)
2005: John Tschida, Softball (NFCA)
2005: Terry Skrypek, Men's Hockey (ACHA)
2009: Dennis Denning, Baseball (ABCA)
2010: Glenn Caruso, Football (Liberty Mutual)
2011: Steve Fritz, Men’s Basketball (NABC)
2011: Glenn Caruso, Football (Liberty Mutual & Amer. Football Monthly)
2012: Glenn Caruso, Football (Liberty Mutual & AFCA)