Craig Howard, who brought Southern Oregon University its first football championship in his fourth season at the helm, has been named the Rawlings NAIA Coach of the Year in association with American Football Monthly.
Howard's Raiders set a school record for wins in 2014 by going 13-2, the last one being a 55-31 triumph over Marian in the NAIA title game that gave the program its first-ever No. 1 ranking.
Howard, a native of Grants Pass, coached high school football in Florida for eight seasons starting in 2003 and compiled a 76-23 record, winning a state title at Nease High in 2005. Prior to his time in Florida, Howard was the head coach for two seasons at Oregon Tech.
He was hired at SOU prior to the 2011 season and within two years made the Raiders Frontier Conference champions. He owns a 34-14 overall record — giving him the highest win percentage and the fourth-most wins in program history — including a 17-2 mark at home.
SOU had to make most of its postseason run on the road, however, as it became the first team in NAIA Championship Series history to wins its last three games away from home. The Raiders averaged 51.5 points in four playoff games, an NAIA postseason record, and upset the Nos. 1, 3 and 7 teams in the rankings.
SOU had previously never advanced past the quarterfinal round.
Under Howard, the Raiders led the NAIA in offense in 2012 and '13 and were second this season.