Dec. 10, 2008
University of Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly and kick returner Mardy Gilyard (Bunnell, Fla./Flagler Palm Coast) were named BIG EAST Coach of the Year and Special Teams Player of the Year, respectively, the league office announced Wednesday.
The awards were voted on by the league's coaches.
Kelly earned BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors for the second time in as many seasons on the Bearcat sideline. He is the first coach to earn the honor in back-to-back seasons since Larry Coker of Miami was chosen in 2001 and 2002. Kelly led the Bearcats - who were picked fifth in the BIG EAST preseason media poll - to their first conference championship and their first appearance in a Bowl Championship Series game.
Cincinnati finished the regular season at 11-2 overall and 6-1 in the BIG EAST and is ranked No. 12 in the final regular-season Associated Press and USA Today polls. Kelly was named the American Football Coaches' Association Region 1 Coach of the Year Tuesday.
Gilyard is the second straight Cincinnati player to be named BIG EAST Special Teams Player of the Year, following punter Kevin Huber (Cincinnati, Ohio/McNicholas), who earned the honor in 2007. Gilyard established himself as the conference's most dangerous kickoff return man with a 28.0-yard average and two touchdowns. He had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the Bearcats' win against West Virginia and also scored on a kickoff return in a loss to Oklahoma. He set the school single-season record with 897 return yards in 2008.
The Bearcats (11-2) will face No. 21/19 Virginia Tech in the 75th FedEx Orange Bowl at Dolphin Stadium on Jan. 1. The game is scheduled to be televised nationally on FOX. Tickets are available by calling 1-877 CATS-TIX or visiting CATSTIX.com.