After leading the Titans to their first conference title in 36 years and a berth in the semifinal of the NCAA Division III Championship, UW-Oshkosh head football coach Pat Cerroni has been named one of five finalists for the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award.
Cerroni earned a spot in the NCAA Division III finals as a result of fan voting and a scoring model endorsed by the College Football Hall of Fame. Coaches had to be among the top 15 in the first round of fan voting, which closed on Dec. 1. They were then evaluated on a series of criteria, including wins, team penalties, sportsmanship, academic performance and charitable contributions.
College Football Hall of Fame and national media members also factor into the voting. The overall winner will be announced on Jan. 7. If Cerroni receives the most votes, Liberty Mutual will donate $50,000 to charities of his choice, as well as a $20,000 grant to UW-Oshkosh's alumni association.
"We have heard first-hand that Coach Cerroni is a clear example of what it means to be a leader – both on and off the field and in the community," said James MacPhee, Senior V.P. and CMO for Liberty Mutual. "We applaud Coach Cerroni's commitment to the values that help shape the players he coaches, and we are pleased to celebrate him as one of this year's finalists."
The other finalists are Glenn Caruso of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.), Jim Catanzaro of Lake Forest College (Ill.), Lonnie Pries of Concordia University-Chicago (Ill.) and Steve Staker of Coe College (Iowa).
Cerroni has coached UW-Oshkosh to a 13-0 record, including wins over four nationally ranked squads. The fifth-ranked Titans are on a 15-game win streak for the longest unbeaten run in NCAA football.
Both the American Football Coaches Association and D3football.com named Cerroni its 2012 NCAA Division III West Region Coach of the Year. Cerroni coached six men to spots on the All-West Region First Team, including Player of the Year and Gagliardi Trophy finalist Nate Wara.
Statistically, UW-Oshkosh ranks 11th in the nation in total offense and turnover margin, 16th in rush offense, scoring offense and scoring defense and 19th in rush defense.
Cerroni is in his sixth season as UW-Oshkosh's head coach. His overall record of 39-23 includes 7-3 marks in 2011 and 2007. The Titans compiled just 12 victories from 2008-10 and topped that figure with their win total this season. Prior to being named head coach, Cerroni served as the Titans' defensive coordinator from 2000-06.
Cerroni and his UW-Oshkosh football team have performed several community services projects over the past six years, including events associated with the Oshkosh Boys & Girls Club, Oshkosh YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Old Glory Honor Flight and Feeding America.
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force (1984-88), Cerroni earned his bachelor's degree from Carroll University in 1992 and his master's from UW-Oshkosh in 2004. Cerroni and his wife, Tammy, are the parents of a daughter, Kali, and son, Kyle.
UW-Oshkosh continues its season at fourth-ranked University of St. Thomas on Saturday (Dec. 8) in St. Paul, Minn. The victor advances to play top-ranked University of Mount Union or second-ranked University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the national championship game (Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl) on Dec. 14 in Salem, Va.