WHEELING - Two record-setting coaches share the annual Furfari Award as West Virginia College Coach of the Year.The co-winners, in balloting by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association, are repeat honoree Jim Crutchfield, the men's basketball coach at West Liberty University, and first-year West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen.The tie is only the second in the 71-year history of the award. The first was in 1946.West Liberty didn't miss a beat despite graduating four senior starters, including two All-Americans, who totaled 5,870 career points from a 33-1 team that reached the NCAA Division II semifinals. The four seniors all were 1,000-point scorers last season.
With an all-underclass rotation, Crutchfield molded a Hilltopper squad that finished with a 32-3 record and repeated as the West Virginia Conference regular-season and tournament champion, regional titlist and an Elite Eight national qualifier. Crutchfield's team was ranked No. 3 in the final D-II national poll as he guided the squad to its eighth straight 20-victory season.The youthful Hilltoppers continued their high-scoring antics by leading the nation for the sixth time at 102.4 points per game and was second in 3-point goals at 10.7 per game.And, over the last two seasons, Crutchfield's teams set an all-time WVC record win streak of 60 consecutive games before bowing in late February to backyard rival Wheeling Jesuit.The continued success story for Crutchfield's teams hiked his career college record to 207-43 and an 82.8 winning percentage, the highest of any active U.S. college coach at any level.
Holgorsen, meanwhile, started his head coaching career slowly but finished with a bang.An underclass-led squad trailed in 11 of 12 regular-season games but the team's 9-3 record tied for the Big East title with Louisville and Cincinnati. Tie-breakers gave the Mountaineers a BCS Bowl berth opposite Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson in the Orange Bowl at Miami.An underdog Mountaineers squad shocked the nation with a record-setting 70-33 victory to set BCS and all-bowl records for points scored. The final 10-3 record for the youthful squad resulted in No. 17 and No. 18 rankings in the two major national polls after being ranked in 13 of the 16 weeks during the season.Holgorsen became the first WVU coach to win 10 games in his baptismal season and only the third coach nationally to win a BCS Bowl in their first season. The others were Chris Peterson of Boise State in 2007 and Larry Coker of Miami in 2001.The Mountaineer mentor was selected the Football Writers Association of America First-Year Head Coach of the Year.One of the underclassmen WVU standouts, wide receiver-kick returner Tavon Austin, earlier was named winner of the Hardman Award as state Amateur Athlete of the Year.The honorees will be feted at the 66th annual Victory Awards Dinner next Sunday in Parkersburg.
Crutchfield will be present to accept his award but Holgorsen and Austin won't be present.