Northwest Missouri State head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma was announced as the 2009 Liberty Mutual Division II Coach of the Year in a ceremony Wednesday in Newport Beach, Calif. This marks the first Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year honor for Tjeerdsma, who has been national coach of the year by the American Football Coaches three times (1998, 1999 and 2008).
Gary Patterson of Texas Christian University, Jerry Moore of Appalachian State University and Steve Staker of Coe College , along with Tjeerdsma, each earned a $50,000 charitable donation from Liberty Mutual and a $20,000 scholarship award for their school’s alumni association. They will also be honored in the permanent Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year display at the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tjeerdsma led the Bearcats to a 14-1 record and the program’s third national championship this past season. It was the fifth straight title game appearance for the Bearcats, who are 64-10 in the last five seasons. Tjeerdsma is in his 16th season at Northwest. The team was 0-11 in his first season of 1994. The team is 171-30 since, winning 11 MIAA championships, making seven national title game appearances and bringing home three titles. With 29 postseason wins, Tjeerdsma is the winningest postseason coach in Division II history. His team has won 37 consecutive conference games dating back to 2005.
The award celebrates college football coaches whose seasons were marked by success and sportsmanship of their teams on the field, achievements by their student-athletes in the classroom and their selfless support of charity and their communities.
Tjeerdsma and his players are known throughout the Maryville community for their civic and philanthropic endeavors. For the past 15 years, the team has participated in the community spring clean-up day, removing trash, mowing lawns and cleaning yards and streets for local residents. Tjeerdsma is also a frequent speaker at local schools and D.A.R.E. programs and volunteers to bring meals to local senior citizens among other things.
Among his peers in Division II, Tjeerdsma is third on the active wins list (230) and with the seventh-best win percentage (.739). His 230 wins are the fourth-most in Division II history.
Tjeerdsma was 59-39-4 in 10 seasons at Austin College in Texas before arriving in Maryville where he is 171-41 in 16 seasons with the Bearcats.