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Aldrich Named Finalist for Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year

BOSTON - Liberty Mutual Insurance today named Augustana head football coach Mike Aldrich one of five Division II finalists for the 2010 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award, the leading college football coaching honor which celebrates coaches for their sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence and for giving back to their teams, schools and communities, on and off field.

The finalists were determined as a result of online fan voting at www.CoachoftheYear.com and through an objective-scoring model endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame. Aldrich qualified for the model by finishing among the top 15 in fan votes in Division II. The model considers, among other criteria, wins, team penalties, on-field sportsmanship, academic achievement by the student-athletes and civic and philanthropic endeavors.

“Coach Aldrich is a great candidate for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award,” said Greg Gordon, Liberty Mutual senior vice president, consumer marketing. “The passionate Augustana fans and alumni have suitably honored his coaching excellence, his dedication to student-athletes, and his commitment to community by casting votes and sharing anecdotes about his contributions, both on and off the field.”

Joining Aldrich among the five finalists for Division II are Bob Nielson of Minnesota Duluth, Tom Sawyer of Winona State, Marty Schaetzle of Mercyhurst and Mel Tjeerdsma of Northwest Missouri State.

Last week, Aldrich was named the Region 5 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.

Augustana finished the 2010 season 11-2 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, where the No. 9 Vikings were defeated by No. 1 Minnesota Duluth.

Aldrich's first year as head coach of the Vikings will go down as the most successful season in school history. He led his program to a school-record 11 wins (three more than the previous record) and guided the Vikings to their first playoff appearance since 1989. Augustana also hosted and won its first playoff game by defeating No. 6 Grand Valley State on Nov. 27 at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.

Also doubling as the defensive coordinator, Aldrich's defensive unit finished the year as the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference's best--allowing just 229.6 yards per game.

Now through Dec. 28 fans can visit www.CoachoftheYear.com to vote among the finalists. To ensure candidates are evaluated fairly and measured against the specific values of responsibility and integrity, selection committees of College Football Hall of Fame players and coaches – including Archie Manning, Lou Holtz, Vince Dooley, Ronnie Lott, Archie Griffin as well as additional historic football coaches and players – and the national college football media, such as famed sports analysts, Kirk Herbstreit, Stewart Mandel and Tim Brando, will also cast votes for the winners. Fan votes constitute 20 percent of a coach's final score, with College Football Hall of Fame comprising 55 percent and media making up 25 percent.

Liberty Mutual will announce the four winners, one from each division, Jan. 10 in Scottsdale, Ariz., prior to the BCS National Championship Game. If Aldrich wins, he will receive $50,000 to donate to the charities of his choice and a $20,000 grant to his school's alumni association, providing further positive impact for Augustana and the local community.

Now in its fifth year, the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award will surpass $1 million in support to dozens of national and local charities and college scholarship funds on behalf of its 2010 and past winners. Former Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Division II winners include: Mel Tjeerdsma, Northwest Missouri State (2009); Chuck Broyles, Pittsburg State University (2008) and Bill O'Boyle, Chadron State College (2007).