SALEM, ORE. -- Head Coach Mark Speckman, who led the Willamette University football team to the NCAA Playoffs and to an overall record of 11-1, is one of five finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award for NCAA Division III. The winner will be announced on ESPN at halftime of the Music City Bowl on Dec. 31.
Joining Speckman as finalists are Greg Debeljak from Case Western Reserve University, John Gagliardi from St. John's University (Minn.), Larry Kehres from Mount Union College and Dan MacNeill from Cortland State. Gagliardi received the award last season.
Fans can participate in the voting process to help determine the winner. Voting will be open between Dec. 12 and Dec. 22, with each fan being able to vote once per day.
The fan voting will determine 20 percent of the each coach's final score, with members of the College Football Hall of Fame providing 55 percent and national media adding 25 percent.
One winner from each NCAA division (BCS, FCS, DII, DIII) will be selected later this month to receive the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. Each winner will earn $50,000 for his choice of charity or charities. An additional $20,000 will go to the alumni association of the college or university where each winning coach is employed.
Liberty Mutual sponsors the Coach of the Year Award to honor coaches who show responsibility and excellence on and off the field. The founders of the award also want to stress than how you win is as important as winning. The involvement of coaches in community service also is a component of the selection process.