CHARLOTTE, N.C. – UWF head football coach Pete Shinnick was named the Division II National Coach of the Year, as announced by the American Football Coaches Association during the live broadcast of the American Football Coaches Awards®, presented by Amway, at the Charlotte Convention Center Tuesday.
Shinnick led the Argonauts to an 11-4 record and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship Game in their second season of competition. UWF went 5-3 in the ultra-competitive Gulf South Conference to finish tied for second. The Argonauts won a school record six-consecutive games which included five against nationally ranked teams en route to the title game appearance.
UWF was ranked second in the final AFCA Top 25, marking its first-ever ranking after receiving votes twice during the 2017 season.
The Argos had the nation’s 20th-ranked defense and were among the top 20 in sacks, turnovers gained, interceptions, fumbles recovered, fourth down defense and defensive touchdowns.
UWF had a number of exciting events transpire in 2017. Among the highlights in the regular-season were: A goal line turnover in the final seconds to secure a win at Missouri S&T in the season opener; The team tied a school-record with 51 points in a win over Chowan; Austin Williams kicked a field goal as time expired in a wild road win over Florida Tech to claim the Coastal Classic for the second-consecutive year, Marvin Conley had a 98-yard pick-6 in the last minute to preserve a 28-14 win over Mississippi College; the Argos defeated North Alabama 30-7 on Senior Day; UWF erased a 16-0 deficit to defeat West Georgia 34-29 and earn a berth into the postseason, becoming the fastest startup to reach the playoffs in Division II.
The postseason run proved to be just as exciting, captivating the nation as the team knocked off one top-25 opponent after another, beginning with a dominating 31-0 win at No. 16 Wingate. A 17-14 win at No. 25 West Georgia followed before winning the Super Regional 2 championship at No. 17 West Alabama. The national semifinals saw another dominating defensive performance as the Argonauts outlasted top-ranked and undefeated Indiana (Pa.), 27-17 to advance to the title game.
The award is the first for Shinnick, who is 16-10 in two years at UWF and 129-56 in 16 seasons as a head coach.
He becomes the ninth coach in UWF history to win a national coach of the year award. That group includes women’s soccer coach Joe Bartlinski, men’s golf coach Steve Fell, baseball coach Mike Jeffcoat, diving coach Barbara Parker and men’s tennis coach Derrick Racine.
UWF now has three reigning national coaches of the year with Fell, Racine and Shinnick.