BOWLING GREEN, Ohio—Bowling Green State University Director of Athletics D. Christopher Kingston has announced that Dino Babers, runner-up for the Eddie Robinson Award for FCS Coach of the Year, has been named head football coach. Babers comes to Bowling Green after serving as the head coach at Eastern Illinois for two seasons.
"We are so proud to have Dino and his family join Bowling Green State University," Kingston began. "Dino brings with him an incredible resume of successful experiences that absolutely fit the Falcon football program. He is a proven winner who is in the business of developing young men who desire success on the field, in the classroom and in the community. His ability to maximize talent through skill development is unmatched."
Babers brings 30 years of coaching experience with him to BGSU, including a 19-7 record as a head coach. This season, Babers led Eastern Illinois to a 12-2 record, a No. 2 national ranking, and a quarterfinal appearance in the FCS playoffs. The Panthers have outscored their opponents 675-319. Upon his arrival at EIU, Babers took a Panthers team which had finished in last place in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2011, and led them to a first-place finish in 2012 with a 6-1 league mark. It was just the fourth time in OVC history in which a team had gone from worst-to-first in a single season. For his efforts, he was named Ohio Valley Conference Coach of the Year in each of the past two years.
During his two seasons at EIU, Babers led the best offense in all of FCS. The Panthers led the nation in yards per game (589.5) and points per game (48.2) in 2013. In addition, EIU averaged 372.4 yards per game through the air and 217.1 yards per game on the ground.
"I am honored and excited to join the Falcon family," Babers said. "BGSU has great facilities and the fans are proving, most recently through ticket sales for this year's bowl game, that their support of BGSU football is among the best in the MAC. I want to thank President Mazey, Chris Kingston, and Lesley Irvine for the opportunity to take over the Bowling Green program. My family and I can't wait to get to Bowling Green and become Falcons. While I look forward to my time at BGSU, I want to thank the Eastern Illinois players and fans for their support the last two years, especially President Perry and (athletics director) Barbara Burke."
Under the guidance of Babers, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was named the Walter Payton Award winner, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy -- given to the nation's best player. Garoppolo threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013. During his two seasons under Babers' guidance, he has thrown for 8,873 yards and 84 scores.
Babers, best-known for his offensive firepower, has proven to be an effective defensive coach, as well. The Panthers are in the top 30 nationally in scoring defense, red zone defense, and passing defense efficiency. They are also one of the most prolific defenses in the all of FCS at forcing turnovers, as they are sixth in the nation with a plus-14 turnover margin. EIU forced 37 turnovers on the year and ranks first in the country with 23 fumbles recovered.
Both Garoppolo and wide receiver Erik Lora were named the best at their position by the FCS Athletic Directors Association. Lora followed up his record breaking 2012 season (in which he was named OVC Player of the Year) by catching 123 passes for 1,554 yards and 19 touchdowns in 14 games. The 123 catches were the second-most in FCS history, trailing only the record-setting 136 catches he had in 2012. The 1,544 yards were the second-most in OVC history (behind only his record of 1,664 set last year) and 15th in FCS history. His 19 receiving touchdowns were the most in OVC history as were his 35 career receiving touchdowns.
Under Babers, Eastern Illinois' offense used the talents of more than just one receiver as four wideouts had at least 700 yards and eight touchdowns this year. Adam Drake joined Lora with over 1,000 yards in 2013, as he caught 85 passes for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. In addition to the aerial assault, EIU features a dynamic rushing attack. As a team, the Panthers had 35 rushing touchdowns and featured two backs who had big years. Shepard Little rushed for 1,551 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season, while Taylor Duncan had 988 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Prior to becoming the head coach at Eastern Illinois, Babers spent four seasons at Baylor under Art Briles from 2008-11. During his time in Waco, he served as the special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and outside receivers coach, coaching NFL stars such as Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, and Josh Gordon. Prior to that, he spent four seasons at UCLA as an assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. His other coaching stints have included stops at Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Arizona, San Diego State, Purdue, Northern Arizona, Nevada, Eastern Illinois, Arizona State, and Hawaii.
More impressively, Babers has mentored 27 receivers who have played in the NFL, and several other top draft picks. Among the players who have been coached by Babers, six of them were drafted in the first two rounds. The Tennessee Titans drafted wide receiver Kendall Wright in the first round, while running back Trung Candidate was a first round pick by the St. Louis Rams in 2000. Four others—wide receivers Brian Alford, Will Blackwell, Dennis Northcutt and Josh Gordon—were taken in the second round.
Babers was a four-year starter at the University of Hawaii, Academic All-WAC, and captain his senior year. He is married to his wife Susan. They have four daughters—Breeahnah (22), Tasha (20), Jazzmin (19), and Paris (16).