WACO, Texas—Columbia Football Head Coach Al Bagnoli was named the 2017 American Football Coaches Association FCS Region 1 Coach of the Year, the organization announced Tuesday morning.
With the award, Bagnoli is now one of five finalists for the AFCA FCS National Coach of the Year Award. The AFCA will present the regional winners and announce the 2017 National FBS, FCS, NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III and NAIA Coach of the Year award winners at its awards show presented by Amway, which will take place on Tuesday, January 9 at its annual convention in Charlotte, N.C. The event will be broadcast live on the USA Today Sports Facebook page.
Bagnoli earns an AFCA Region Coach of the Year award for the fourth time in his career: 1983, 1989, 1991 and now 2017. The accolade also marks Bagnoli’s second Coach of the Year honor this year as he was previously named the 2017 Ivy League Coach of the Year.
Along with Bagnoli, the other FCS Region Coach of the Year award winners include Kennesaw State’s Brian Bohannon and Howard’s Mike London as co-winners in Region 2, Jacksonville State’s John Grass in Region 3, Valparaiso’s Dave Cecchini in Region 4 and Southern Utah’s Demario Warren in Region 5. Region 1 is made of institutions in the Ivy League, Patriot League, Northeast Conference and Colonial Athletic Association.
Bagnoli is also a finalist for the STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award, the organization’s National FCS Coach of the Year.
Bagnoli is only the third coach at Columbia to earn the honor following Aldo Donelli (D1, U) in 1961 and Ray Tellier (Region 1, I-AA) in 1996.
In his third season leading the Columbia football program, Bagnoli guided the Lions to their best overall record (8-2), best Ivy League record (5-2) and highest Ivy League finish (second place) in 21 years since 1996. He guided the Lions from a 3-7 record in 2016 to an 8-2 record this year. Columbia started the season with six consecutive wins, the best start to a season in 21 years (since 1996) and put together a seven-game win streak which proved to be Columbia’s longest win streak since 1935. Columbia also defeated Princeton, Penn and Dartmouth in a season for the first time since 1971.
In 2015, Bagnoli inherited a Columbia program that snapped a 24-game losing streak (Nov. 17, 2012-Oct. 10, 2015) with a 2-8 record in his first year. He finished 3-7 in 2016, then broke out with an 8-2 overall record this season. In the four years prior to Bagnoli’s arrival, Columbia went 4-36 (2011-14).
Columbia came within one game of winning Bagnoli’s 10th Ivy League title and tying for the most Ivy League championships for a head coach in league history. With an Ivy League title, Bagnoli would become the first coach in conference history to win an Ivy League title with two different programs (Columbia & Penn, 9).
The AFCA began recognizing district coaches of the year following the 1960 season. The awards were established the same year Eastman Kodak agreed to sponsor the AFCA Coach of the Year Award. Prior to 1960, the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain had sponsored the program, which recognized one national Coach of the Year.