Babers to be named Falcons’ coach

Led E. Illinois to FCS national quarterfinals this year

Eastern Illinois coach Dino Babers won 19 games in two seasons with the FCS squad. The Panthers averaged 48.2 points per game this season because of a prolific passing offense.
Eastern Illinois coach Dino Babers won 19 games in two seasons with the FCS squad. The Panthers averaged 48.2 points per game this season because of a prolific passing offense.

BOWLING GREEN — Dino Babers will be formally introduced as the 18th head football coach of the Bowling Green State University football team in a press conference today.

Babers, 52, who most recently was the head coach at Eastern Illinois, replaces Dave Clawson, who last week left BG after five seasons to become head coach at Wake Forest.

Babers is the first African-American football coach in school history.

“We are so proud to have Dino and his family join Bowling Green State University,” BG athletics director Chris Kingston said in a release. “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 used a high-powered offense to lead Eastern Illinois to a 12-2 record and the No. 2 ranking among Football Championship Subdivision teams this past season, including an 8-0 mark to win the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Panthers reached the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs before losing to Towson.

Babers posted a two-year record of 19-7 at Eastern Illinois. His first team was 7-5 but won the OVC with a 6-1 mark, one season after finishing last in the OVC with a 1-7 record.

That marked just the fourth time in OVC history a team had gone from worst to first in a single season.

Babers was named OVC coach of the year in each of his two seasons at Eastern Illinois.

“We would like to thank Coach Babers for his service to Eastern Illinois and the Panther football program,” EIU athletics director Barbara Burke said in a release. “Coach Babers and his staff brought an exciting brand of football to Charleston, Ill., winning consecutive Ohio Valley Conference championships.

“While we hate to lose him as our head coach, we do understand that this is part of the collegiate coaching business and coaches move on to other opportunities.”

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.

Individually, Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo received the Walter Payton Award winner, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. 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.

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 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 his record-setting 136 catches in 2012, while his 1,544 yards were the second-most in OVC history, behind only his record of 1,664 set last year. His 19 receiving TDs were the most in OVC history as were his 35 career receiving TDs.

Under Babers, Eastern Illinois also featured a dynamic rushing attack, finishing with 35 rushing touchdowns as Shepard Little ran for 1,551 yards and 15 TDs while Taylor Duncan had 988 yards and 10 scores.

While Babers’ teams are best known for his offensive firepower, he has proven to be an effective defensive coach as well. The Panthers are in the top 30 nationally among FCS schools 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.

Prior to becoming the head coach at Eastern Illinois, Babers spent 25 years as an assistant coach. Most recently he spent four seasons at Baylor under Art Briles, serving as the special teams coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and outside receivers coach.

He also spent four seasons at UCLA as an assistant head coach, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach and had stops at Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Arizona, San Diego State, Purdue, Northern Arizona, Nevada, Eastern Illinois, Arizona State, and Hawaii, his alma mater.

Contact John Wagner at:, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.