The 2012 Notre Dame football team will be in the memory of their fans for years to come. The season had a number of magical moments including overtime victories, special neutral site visits to Dublin and Chicago and victories of rivals. If any fan needs any reminders of the season check out the list of post season accolades that the Fighting Irish coaches and players have collected this postseason.
Head Coach Brian Kelly led the Irish to an undefeated 12-0 season on their way to the BCS National Championsip game. Kelly had a great season in his third year, a year that has been very memorable for Notre Dame Coaches. Irish legendary coaches Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Lou Holtz all won the National Title in their third year at Notre Dame. Whether Kelly joins that list of legends by winning the title in his third year will remain a question for a few more weeks but his contribution to the Irish this year has not gone unrecognized.
Kelly is the first coach to be named Home Depot Coach of the Year multiple times. Kelly won the award at Cincinnati in 2009, and he was not done with one award being named the 2012 FWAA/Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year. Kelly finished off the hat trick this week being named Associated Press coach of the year. Kelly made history with this award being the first Notre Dame Coach to win this award that started in 1998.
Kelly was not the only coach to get recognition this season. Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco transformed the Irish into one of the top defenses in the country this season. The Irish defense was ranked 1st in a number of categories including scoring defense (holding opponents to 10.33 points per game), rushing touchdowns allowed (2), red zone TDs allowed percentage, total red zone TDs (8), passing yards per completion and many more that summarize Notre Dame is the best defense in the country. The coach of the best team, Diaco, was rewarded with the Broyles Award as the Nation’s Top Assistant Coach.
Manti Te’o will go down in history as having perhaps the best season ever by a college football player. Te’o has taken home seven major national awards this season. The list of accolades includes Walter Camp Player of the Year, Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Lott IMPACT TROPHY, (Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year), Maxwell Award (nation’s most outstanding player), Butkis Award (top linebacker), Bronko Nagurski Award (as the nation’s top defensive player), Rotary Lombardi Award (college football’s best lineman or linebacker).
Te’o will be remembered forever by Notre Dame fans and his awards did not stop there. Te’o was named unanimous All-American, he is the 33rd Notre Dame Player to receive this honor. The last Irish player to receive the award was Golden Tate in 2009. Te’o is the first Irish defender since 2002 when cornerback Shane Walton received the honor.
Te’o was also named to the Capital One Academic All-American first team. In 2011, he was named to the second team. The award is very prestigious. To be eligible the player has to be a starter/ key player and maintain a Grade Point Average of minimum 3.30 on 4.0 scale. Te’o was not the only Irish player to be named Academic All-American. Senior lineman Mike Golic Jr. had a great season and represented the Irish on the field as well as in the classroom.
Tight End Tyler Eiffert had a captivating season of his one. Eiffert hauled in 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns. Eiffert will leave Notre Dame the all-time leader receiving tight end as he edged out legendary Ken McAfee for the honor this season. Eiffert’s hard work did not go unnoticed and he captured the John Mackey Award this season. The award goes to the best tight end in the country.
Notre Dame has had a great season of team and individual achievements but there is room for one more trophy at the Joyce Center . The BCS National Championship would be a fairy tale ending to this memorable season.