CLEVELAND -- Western Michigan's Gary Darnell was named the Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year at the MAC Championship luncheon Friday afternoon in Huntington, W.Va., site of tomorrow's title game.
Darnell, in his fourth year at WMU, guided the Broncos to a 9-2 overall record and a 4-1 West Division mark. The Broncos will play Marshall in Saturday's 1 p.m. championship game for the second year in a row.
Darnell has compiled a 31-14 record in four years at the Bronco helm. The school's nine victories this year are tied for the most in school history with the 1988 team that went 9-3. Inheriting a team that went 2-9 the year before his arrival, Darnell posted an 8-3 record in 1997. He followed with a 7-4 mark in 1998 and a 7-5 record in 1999. Darnell's 1999 squad came within one-play of knocking off the then No. 11 rated Marshall team that eventually finished the season 13-0.
Darnell joins Al Molde (1988) and Elliot Uzelac (1977) and Bill Doolittle (1966) as other WMU head coaches to be honored as the league's Coach of the Year.
Darnell received an overwhelming 45 of the 61 votes cast. Also receiving notice was Ball State's Bill Lynch (8), Toledo's Gary Pinkel (5), Ohio's Jim Grobe (1), Northern Illinois' Joe Novak (1) and Akron's Lee Owens (1).