Mark Farley honored with 2007 Eddie Robinson Award
Northern Iowa coach honored as most outstanding FCS college football head coach
"I'd like to thank my coaching staff and players because this is so much more of a team award and team recognition," said Farley. "It is a tremendous honor especially when you consider all the other coaches out there in the nation that are up for this award. It's really humbling."
The Panthers were 11-0 in the regular season and held the No. 1 ranking in the Sports Network Top 25 poll for six weeks. UNI was ranked ninth in the preseason, and steadily rose before taking the top spot in the poll on Oct. 15.
The Panthers grabbed attention in the second week of the season when they dominated an FBS opponent, Iowa State, by a 24-13 count on the way to a 4-0 non-conference start. Northern Iowa completed a 7-0 record in the Gateway Conference, finishing perfect in the regular season for the first time since 1960.
Along the way, UNI was forced to survive a pair of tough challenges in Gateway play, holding off Southern Illinois, 30-24, on Oct. 13, and coming from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat Youngstown State, 14-13, two weeks later.
The Panthers were seeded No. 1 in the NCAA Division I Football Championships and defeated New Hampshire, 38-35, with a comeback in the final seconds before falling to Delaware, 39-27, in the quarterfinals.
Farley was a walk-on inside linebacker at Northern Iowa and eventually became a team captain and All-American during a playing career that lasted from 1983-86. He worked as a graduate assistant and assistant coach for the Panthers under former UNI head coaches Darrell Mudra, Earle Bruce and Terry Allen. After serving on Allen's staff at Kansas from 1997-2000, Farley returned as the Panthers' head coach in 2001.
In seven seasons as the head coach, Farley has compiled a 63-25 record and led the Panthers to two outright conference titles and a share of two others. His 2005 team tied for the league crown and advanced to the national championship game before losing to Appalachian State, 21-16. Farley placed third in the 2001 Robinson Award balloting, 10th in 2003, and 15th in 2005.
Farley is the second Gateway Conference coach to win the Robinson Award, joining Southern Illinois coach Jerry Kill, who claimed the honor in 2004. Farley's honor was just the fourth major award for a Gateway coach or player. Western Illinois linebackers James Milton (1998) and Edgerton Hartwell (2000) previously won the Buck Buchanan Award as the top defensive players in FCS.
Farley received 39 first-place votes and 310 points out of 120 ballots cast by a panel of sports information directors and selected media who regularly cover FCS games. Al Lavan of Delaware State finished second in what was the largest margin ever (97 points) between a first- and second-place finisher.
The Eddie Robinson Award was established in 1987 by The Sports Network.