BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – Following a 34-14 win in the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, Bowling Green State University Head Football Coach Dino Babers announced at a team meeting on Saturday afternoon that he has accepted the same position at Syracuse University.
In his two seasons at BGSU, Babers compiled an 18-9 record, led the Falcons to two MAC East Division titles, two Bowl Game appearances and a MAC Championship. Defensive Coordinator, Brian Ward, has agreed to lead the team as the Interim Head Coach for the Falcons' bowl game.
"I am so thankful for the loyalty, dedication and integrity that Dino Babers and his family brought to Bowling Green State University," Director of Athletics Chris Kingston said. "In a short period of time . . .
Babers took over the Bowling Green football program in Dec. 2013, following the Falcons first MAC Championship in 21 seasons. Under his guidance, the Falcon football program has soared even higher. In two short seasons, BGSU won 18 games – including three over Big Ten Conference programs – and went 10-0 against teams from the MAC East Division. Last season, with a 33-28 win over South Alabama in the Camellia Bowl, Babers led the Falcons to their first bowl victory in a decade.
"I would like to thank President Mary Ellen Mazey and Athletic Director Chris Kingston for their support and the opportunity to lead the special football program here at Bowling Green over the last two seasons," Babers said. "This community (has) been a wonderful place for my family and (a place) to call home, and it has truly been a privilege to work with such a tremendous group of young men. I believe that this program is ready for even greater things in the future, and I look forward to following their progress. Go Falcons!"
The Bowling Green offense led the MAC – and finished inside the top five nationally – in total offense (561.0), passing offense (376.1), scoring offense (43.4), first downs offense (374) and third down conversions (.519). The Falcons scored 40-or-more points in eight games and twice scored 62 points this season. In total, BGSU scored a school-record 564 points in 2015.
During the last two seasons, BGSU has had 18 players who earned All-MAC honors, including seven who were named first team All-MAC. This season, quarterback Matt Johnson led the country with a MAC and school record 4,700 passing yards and 43 touchdowns. Johnson was named MAC Offensive Player of the Year, the Sammy Baugh Award winner, a first team All-MAC honoree, Vern Smith Leadership Award winner and was a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award.
At the skill positions, Roger Lewis, a two-time first team All-MAC recipient under Babers, leads the country with 1,476 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. The stable of receivers doesn't stop at Lewis, a true sophomore, but continues on to players such as Gehrig Dieter (89 rec., 957 yds., 9 TD) and Ronnie Moore (67 rec., 871 yds., 5 TD). All three receivers return next season.
The passing game is not the only thing that the Falcons have done well, as the run game also excelled. Redshirt senior Travis Greene became BGSU's career rushing leader in 2015, while rising junior Fred Coppet blossomed into an every-down back the Falcons will be able to rely on in the future. Coppet has rushed for 797 yards in 2015 and added five touchdowns. He has had two 100-yard games. He will be joined next season by running backs Donovan Wilson (7 TD), Matt Domer (14.6 yards per carry) and the highly-touted C.J. Lamar, who redshirted in 2015.
None of the Falcons offensive success would be possible at BGSU without the offense line, who is expected to return 140 career starts to the field in 2016. Two Falcons – Alex Huettel and Jacob Bennett – were named All-MAC in 2015. Huettel, a redshirt senior, has started all 54 games during his career, while Bennett, a redshirt junior, has started all 41 of his to date.
The Bowling Green defense has been one of the most aggressive in the MAC during the last two seasons. BGSU forced 60 turnovers in 27 games in each of the past two seasons, including 20 interceptions this season. BGSU returns first team All-MAC linebacker Austin Valdez and second team All-MAC linebacker Trent Greene in 2016.
The Falcons are primed for continued success into the future, having won three consecutive MAC East Division titles. BGSU, who won its 12th MAC Championship in school history on Friday night, has claimed two of the last three MAC Championships. BGSU, winners of 17 consecutive games against MAC East foes, has won at least eight games in each of the last four seasons, and, with their 10th win of the seasons, have twice recorded double digit-win seasons.
(Courtesy of BGSU Athletics)