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Presented by Benchmark Bank

The Stallings Award is awarded annually to a college head football coach who is both a humanitarian and an exceptional coach. Named in honor of Gene Stallings to pay tribute to his son Johnny and those who triumph no matter their circumstances. They make a difference in the lives of their players and the communities in which they live.

A unique aspect of the award is that each winner is selected by the past recipients. Who better to know about what it takes to simultaneously build a winning football program, build young men and to make a positive impact on their community.

Proceeds from the event benefit The Ashford Rise School at The Moody Family YMCA, whose mission is to provide the highest quality education and therapy to preschool children with and without developmental disabilities, and give its students the educational and social foundation to become contributing members of society.


The Stallings Award has raised more than $3,000,000

in the first eleven years of its existence.

For sponsorship opportunities please contact

Gene Stallings

One of Texas A&M’s Junction Boys; Aggie legend as player and coach; also had coaching stints in the NFL and as head coach of the Phoenix Cardinals and headcoach of the 1992 National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide.


He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2011.


The title he is most proud of: Father to the late Johnny Stallings who had Down syndrome.


Proponent for, and voice of, special needs community since the early 60’s when parents shipped kids with Down syndrome to state institutions (Gene refused to do that with Johnny).


Coach Stallings Helped start Rise School of Dallas in 1998.



2022: Luke Fickell


Luke Fickell was selected by the previous winners of this award for his steadfast commitment to his players and community. Over the last five seasons, Coach Fickell has elevated the Bearcats’ football team to the top of college football. Cincinnati had back-to-back 11-win campaigns in 2018 and 2019 and an undefeated regular season that culminated with a Peach Bowl berth in 2020. Last year he led the Bearcats to the greatest season in school history, including an appearance in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Cotton Bowl.


Along the way, he has watched 16 Bearcats earn a selection in the NFL Draft, including a school-record nine draft picks in 2022.

For the team’s accomplishments in the 2021 season, the three-time AAC Coach of the Year has now collected eight different national coach of the year awards.

Coach Fickell has firmly established his T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) culture on Cincinnati campus, graduating players and instilling discipline and consistency on and off the field.

Since his arrival, Cincinnati’s four-year football players have a 100% graduation rate and four Bearcats collected Academic All-America honors in 2021 – the most of any team in the country. 

The Columbus, Ohio native was a two-time first-team all-state defensive tackle and an undefeated, three-time state wrestling champion at DeSales High School.
As a nose guard at Ohio State from 93 through 96, he started a then school-record 50 consecutive games. As an assistant coach he served on the staff at his alma mater for two national championship winning teams.

Community service is a foundational pillar of Fickell’s Cincinnati program. UC football players visit local elementary schools to mentor at-risk youth weekly and participate in countless reading events at schools. He is one of the founders of the 2nd & 7 Foundation, which promotes reading by providing free books and positive role models to kids in need while encouraging young athletes in the community to pay it forward.

Luke Fickell and his wife, Amy, are the parents of six children.


2021: Pat Fitzgerald


The Stallings Award is proud to announce Coach Fitzgerald, a College Football Hall of Fame member, as the recipient of The Stallings Award for his steadfast commitment to his players and community over the last 15 seasons as head coach of the Northwestern football program. Coach Fitzgerald, recently selected as the 2021 AFCA President, is heavily involved with Special Olympics, Northwestern Dance Marathon, Misericordia, Uplifting Athletes, St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research and Catholic Charities of Chicago.


On the field, Coach Fitzgerald has 106 victories at Northwestern, 22nd most by an active FBS coach and sixth most by an active head coach at the same school. He has led Northwestern University to 10 bowl games and five program bowl wins. Including winning the last four bowl games which is tied for the longest active bowl win streak in the Big Ten. Coach Fitzgerald and his teams have won the Big Ten West two out of the last three years and one of four Big Ten teams to make multiple appearances in the Big Ten Championship game.


Fitzgerald has also been recognized for his commitment to ensuring success in the classroom as well as on the field. His teams have posted the highest graduation success rate in the FBS four consecutive years. Northwestern has also ranked in the top-3 in Academic Progress Rate among FBS programs for 10 consecutive years. In addition to being selected the 2021 Stallings Award recipient, Coach Fitzgerald has also been named the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year and most recently the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year (2020). As a player at Northwestern, Fitzgerald was a two-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy Award winner, two-time Chuck Bednarik Award winner as well as a two-time consensus All-American and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Coach Fitzgerald and his wife Stacy are parents to three children, Jack, Ryan and Brendan.


2020: Ken Niumatalolo


The Stallings Award has named Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo as the 2020 Stallings Award Recipient.


The Stallings Award is awarded annually to an FBS head football coach who is an exceptional humanitarian and coach. Coach Niumatalolo was selected as the recipient of The Stallings Award for his dedication to his community of Annapolis, Maryland, and his stance towards coaching strong men on and off the field.


This year Niumatalolo accepted the role of Stake President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Churches in the Annapolis area. In this role he oversees all of the churches in the area.

North Carolina head coach Mack Brown, the first Stallings Award recipient, says, “Ken is a great coach and better man. Plus, he wins, but gives so much back. My life is better because I call him my friend.”


2019: Brian Kelly

Notre Dame

After success at previous universities, Kelly was announced as the Notre Dame head coach on Dec. 10, 2009. Considering his wife Paqui is a two-time breast cancer survivor, it’s hardly surprising that University of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly and his wife have collaborated to fully embrace the fight against cancer. In June 2010,


Brian and Paqui made a substantial gift to the University of Notre Dame in support of endeavors in research, academics and community engagement. The benefaction directly supports three Notre Dame initiatives — cancer research, the Hesburgh Libraries and the Robinson Community Learning Center (RCLC). In the area of cancer research — the fight against breast cancer is a deeply personal cause for the Kelly family — the gift benefits the Mike and Josie Harper Cancer Research Institute that opened in 2011 in Notre Dame’s new Harper Hall.


Founding the Kelly Cares Foundation, now in its ninth year, with the mission to strengthen communities and inspire hope by investing resources to improve health and education. The communities touched by the Foundation are a model of educational success and wellness that provide hope and inspiration to all. Since its founding in 2008, the Kelly Cares Foundation has donated to support causes locally, nationally and globally. We are proud to recognize Coach Brian Kelly who dedicates his time not only to his players, the university, but also to his community. 

2018: Gary Patterson

Texas Christian University


Gary Patterson is the head football coach at Texas Christian University and the winningest coach in Horned Frogs' history. Patterson has led the TCU Horned Frogs to six conference championships—one Conference USA title in 2002; four Mountain West Conference titles in 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011; and one Big 12 Conference title in 2014—and nine bowl game victories—including victories in the 2011 Rose Bowl and 2014 Peach Bowl.


His 2010 squad finished the season undefeated at 13–0 after a 21-19 Rose Bowl victory over the Wisconsin Badgers on New Year's Day 2011, and ranked second in the final tallying of both major polls.

2017: Chris Petersen

University of Washington


Now in his third season at the University of Washington, Chris Petersen is the only two-time winner of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award and also won the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award. He began his time at the University by treating his team as sons of his own. He believes that school and life after football is worth something.


He is preparing each individual player for something bigger and making each one a contributing member of society. Coach Petersen shows his personal integrity and discipline each day while focusing not just on one thing, such as the win, but on the season, the career, and the whole life ahead. 

2016: Mark Dantonio

Michigan State


Mark Dantonio is one of the most accomplished head coaches in the school’s storied history, leading MSU’s transformation into one of the nation’s perennial powers. In 2015, MSU claimed its second Big Ten Championship in three years, won the second-most games in school history (12-2 record), earned a berth in the College Football Playoff, and finished in the Top 10 for a third consecutive season (#6).


Dantonio has always pledged to support student-athletes as they pursue excellence, in the classroom and on the field. 114 Spartans have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, including seven Academic All-America selections.


In addition to his accomplishments as head football coach at Michigan State, Dantonio has been an active member of the Mid-Michigan community. Dantonio and his wife, Becky, host a women’s football clinic for the past decade, with proceeds to local charities. He was named honorary chairman of the Children’s Miracle Network at the Sparrow Children Center’s in 2009. He and his staff have hosted CMN telethons that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. For his efforts, Dantonio was named a 2015 finalist for the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award, which annually honors the coach with a successful season on-field and stresses the importance of academic excellence and desire to give back to the community.

2015: Dabo Swinney

Clemson University


Dabo Swinney is fast becoming a Clemson coaching legend. 2012-14 he led the Tigers to Top 15 finishes and in 2015 played for the National Championship. Coach Swinney is heavily involved in the university and continues his involvement through his foundation, which made the first contribution to the cancer fund established for former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. He brings his entire team to the Greenville Children’s Hospital to visit young men and women fighting cancer.


Coach Swinney was nominated for The Liberty Mutual Coach-of-the-Year Award in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2013. This award evaluates coaching performances in terms of coaching excellence, sportsmanship, integrity, academic excellence, and community commitment. Coach Swinney and his wife have three sons.

2014: David Cutcliffe

Duke University


The 2013 National Coach of the Year for leading Duke to a school-record 10 wins and the ACC Coastal Championship. He is one of a select few coaches to have earned both ACC and SEC Coach of the Year honors. During his distinguished career he has mentored two Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks (Peyton and Eli Manning).


David actively supports the Duke Children’s Hospital, the Ronald McDonald House and the Durham Rescue Mission. He takes his team to the Rescue Mission’s Women’s Shelter to play with the kids every year. And he has led devotionals at the morning service at the Men’s shelter. David and wife, Karen, have four children (Chris, Marcus, Katie & Emily) and two grandsons (Shivers & Bennett).

2013: Mark Richt

University of Georgia


Richt coached the University of Georgia from 2001-2015. There he won two SEC Championships, four SEC Eastern Division titles and tied for another, and his overall record was fourth best in the country. He was been named SEC Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2005. Coach Richt created an environment of excitement and unity among the people of Georgia, and he was deeply involved in numerous charitable and community service projects. 


He twice annually takes his players to “Camp Sunshine”, a summer camp for children with cancer, organizes “Countdown to Kickoff ” to benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Georgia Transplant Foundation, among others. He is also involved with HERO for Children, Habitat for Humanity, Eagle Ranch, and The Healing Place of Athens. He continually impresses with his sincerity, openness, family values, and the causal and genuine way he carries himself.

2012: Mack Brown

University of Texas


Brown is credited with revitalizing both the Texas and North Carolina football programs. In 2006 he was awarded the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award for “Coach of the Year”. On November 27, 2008, Brown achieved his 200th career win, making him the first Texas coach to reach that mark. 


Mack and his wife, Sally, have four children: Matt, Katherine, Barbara, and Chris. In Austin, they are active in community affairs, serving as honorary co-chairpersons of the Capital Campaign for the Helping Hands of Austin. They were instrumental in the opening of The Rise School of Austin and serve on the school’s Board of Directors. The Browns have endorsed a new Texas license plate to raise public awareness for child abuse and neglect, and the need for Court Appointed Special Advocates. After the Aggie Bonfire tragedy at Texas A&M in 1999, the couple initiated a blood drive on the UT campus that attracted more than 250 blood donors. In Austin, January 30, 2014 was “Mack and Sally Brown Day” in honor of the many contributions they made during his time as head coach of the Longhorns.

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