Dec. 10, 2008
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Southeastern Conference head coaches have picked Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson to share SEC Coach of the Year honors with Nick Saban of Alabama and Houston Nutt of Ole Miss.
Johnson, in his seventh year at the helm of Vanderbilt football, shared the award after guiding the Commodores to their first postseason bowl appearance in 26 years. The Commodores, 6-6 overall, will face Atlantic Coast Conference divisional champion Boston College in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl in Nashville on New Year's Eve.
Johnson thanked the Commodore coaching staff and Vanderbilt student-athletes upon hearing the news.
"More than anything, this is tremendous recognition for our program," Johnson said. "Of course, I'm pleased to share this award knowing the caliber of coaching that takes place in the Southeastern Conference.
"I really want to thank our players and coaches. This award goes to them as much as it goes to me. I'm just extremely proud of our entire coaching staff and all of our players," he added.
Johnson becomes just the fourth Vanderbilt football coach to win or share in the SEC Coach of the Year Award. The most recent recipient was George MacIntyre, one of Johnson's mentors, who won the award in 1982.
The Commodores' season was highlighted by four conference victories - the most by a Vanderbilt squad since the SEC went to divisional play in 1992. The Commodores' third place finish in the SEC Eastern Division also is the highest since the move to 12 conference teams 16 years ago.
Johnson's Commodores also defeated a pair of ranked SEC opponents early in the season, South Carolina and Auburn, marking the first time in team history that a Vanderbilt squad has accomplished the feat.
The Commodores continued to find ways to win on the road as well. This season, they notched conference victories at Ole Miss and Kentucky. In the last four years, Johnson has now guided Vanderbilt to SEC road victories against Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, Ole Miss and Kentucky.
After starting the season 5-0, the Commodores received a No. 13 ranking from the Associated Press. They remained in the Top 25 for four weeks, the longest stretch ever at the school.
Johnson ranks fifth all-time among Commodore coaches with 26 victories.
The SEC office also announced other individual awards Wednesday. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry and Florida return specialist Brandon James were voted as the Southeastern Conference's top offensive player, top defensive player and top special teams player, respectively
The coaches also selected Tebow and Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green as the league's scholar-athlete of the year and top freshman performer, respectively. Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher was selected as the recipient of the Jacobs Trophy, given to the league's top blocker.