Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is the first two-time winner of the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award.
Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is the first coach to win the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award twice in its 19 years of existence.
Kelly, in his third year with the Irish, exceeded expectations this season by taking a team that was unranked in the preseason to the top of the AP poll and BCS standings. His team finished 12-0, the only undefeated bowl eligible team in the country. Kelly's first coach of the year award followed a 12-0 season at Cincinnati in 2009, the year before he took the Notre Dame job.
Notre Dame's record under Kelly so far is 28-10, which gives him more wins in his first three seasons than any other coach in program history. He beat out a list of finalists for this year's award that included Penn State's Bill O'Brien, Kansas State's Bill Snyder and Ohio State's Urban Meyer. Kelly will officially accept the award at the Home Depot College Football Awards show in Orlando on Thursday night.
Kelly joins a growing list of Notre Dame coaches and players collecting hardware as they wait to face No. 2 Alabama in the BCS national championship game. Defensive coordinator Bob Diaco won the Broyles Award for the nation's top assistant coach on Tuesday. That makes Kelly and Diaco the sixth coaching duo to sweep those awards. Les Miles and John Chavis each won their respective award for LSU last season. Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn from Auburn both won the year before.
Senior tight end Tyler Eifert joins that list after winning the John Mackey Award for the country's top tight end. The Ft. Wayne, Ind., native caught 44 passes for 624 yards and a team-high four touchdowns this year. At a school known for producing a lineage of talented tight ends, Eifert is the first Notre Dame player to win the Mackey. He was a finalist for the award last year. He will also pick up his trophy in Orlando Thursday night.
Fellow captain Manti Te'o will join Kelly and Eifert in Florida where he is in the running for the Maxwell and Bednarik Awards. Te'o has already claimed three postseason honors this week — the Butkus Award (top linebacker), the Nagurski Award (top defender) and the ARA Sportsmanship Award.