(Stats Perform) – To put VMI’s spring championship season in perspective, consider the military school program hadn’t had a winning record since moving to the FCS level in 1982 and had a 25-game losing streak as recently as 2018.
It helps to explain how on Tuesday, VMI’s Scott Wachenheim was a runaway winner of the Stats Perform FCS Eddie Robinson Award, which is in its 34th season and presented to the national coach of the year in college football’s Division I subdivision.
VMI captured an outright Southern Conference title – its first conference championship since 1977 – and for the first time earned a national FCS ranking and a bid to the national playoffs. The Keydets, No. 11 to end the regular season, fell at James Madison in the first round, completing a 6-2 record – their first above. 500 since 1981.
“This team has the most talent since I’ve been here,” said Wachenheim, who was selected from 16 finalists. “This team loves each other and that can’t be overstated. They truly love each other and they hold each other accountable. They stand strong and firm during the darkest times and they work with a great attitude. They’ve dodged all the curveballs that COVID has thrown us this past year and they back each other up. That’s what has made this team special.”
After being hired in December 2014, Wachenheim was only 6-38 in his first four seasons in Lexington. While the struggling program took big steps with a 5-7 record in 2019, it only tied for sixth in this year’s SoCon’s preseason poll.
Quarterback Reece Udinski, the SoCon’s preseason offensive player of the year, was rewriting the school’s record book when he suffered a season-ending injury in the fourth game. Seth Morgan, a redshirt freshman, stepped in as the starter and along with standouts such as wide receiver Jakob Herres and linebacker Stone Snyder kept the Keydets on track for their incredible accomplishments.
A 40-member national media panel voted for the Robinson Award following the unprecedented regular season, which spanned the fall and spring semesters. Wachenheim, also the SoCon coach of the year, will be honored on an FCS National Awards show to air on Bally Sports Regional Networks on May 15.
Sam Houston’s K.C. Keeler, the 2016 award recipient, was the runner-up.
2020-21 Eddie Robinson Award Voting Results
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.
1. Scott Wachenheim, VMI: 22-6-3-2-1-148
2. K.C. Keeler, Sam Houston: 4-6-2-4-8-66
3. Danny Rocco, Delaware: 1-7-7-4-1-63
4. Bubba Schweigert, North Dakota: 1-3-10-5-2-59
5. Scott Abell, Davidson: 1-4-3-4-5-43
6. Doc Gamble, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: 1-6-2-3-1-42
7. Curt Cignetti, James Madison: 3-0-6-3-2-41
8. Jay Hill, Weber State: 1-5-2-1-2-35
9. Bobby Petrino, Missouri State: 2-2-0-6-4-34
10. Connell Maynor, Alabama A&M: 1-1-1-2-5-21
11.(tie) Kevin Callahan, Monmouth: 1-0-2-3-3-20
11.(tie) Dean Hood, Murray State: 2-0-1-2-3-20
13. Dave Cecchini, Bucknell: 0-0-1-0-1-4
14. Rod Milstead, Delaware State: 0-0-0-1-1-3
15. Bryan Collins, LIU: 0-0-0-0-1-1
16. Landon Fox, Valparaiso: 0-0-0-0-0-0