Mihalik to be honored at MetLife Stadium Feb. 25
Feb. 25, 2016
NEW YORK - George Mihalik, recently retired Slippery Rock University head football coach, will receive the Division II Coach of the Year award Feb. 25 as part of the Eastern College Football Awards Banquet at MetLife Stadium. The awards are presented by the New York Metropolitan Football Writers.
"This really came as a surprise to me," said Mihalik. "But I am humbled to be considered for the honor and I am looking forward to taking in a few days in New York City with my wife, Laura."
Anyone watching the NBC's live broadcast of the "Today" show Feb. 25 got a glimpse of Mihalik and his wife sharing the screen with famed weatherman Al Roker. The Mihalik's were of course toting an SRU pennant.
The New York Football Writers and the Eastern College Athletic Conference host the award ceremony each year to honor the top achievements in East Coast football.
All schools that reside in a state that touches the Atlantic Ocean, in addition to Vermont and West Virginia, are included in the consideration for the awards. The association also hands out the Lambert Meadowlands Trophies at the banquet each year. Schools must be ECAC dues-paying members to be considered for the ECAC awards presented at the banquet (SRU is not included).
Mihalik was chosen for the award after leading SRU to a No. 7 national ranking in 2015.
In January, Mihalik announced that he would retire from The Rock after devoting 44 years of his life to the Green and White, including 28 as head football coach and full-time professor in the safety management department.
Mihalik came to Slippery Rock in 1970 and was a three-year starter as a quarterback on The Rock football team, leading the squad to back-to-back conference championships in 1972 and 1973. He became a graduate assistant with the program, then an assistant coach before being named head coach in 1988. He served as the head coach for 28 seasons, compiling a school record 197 wins, winning eight PSAC Western Division Championships and reaching the NCAA Division II playoffs six times, including each of the last three seasons. Only six programs in Division II have been to the NCAA playoffs over that same period of time.
Mihalik closed his coaching career on a high note, as The Rock won four of the last five PSAC West titles, including the last three, and captured two consecutive PSAC championships. Last fall, the team tied the program record for single-season wins with 12 and made a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals. SRU will enter the 2016 season as owners of the longest active home winning streak among all Division II teams with 17 straight victories. The Rock was a perfect 17-0 at home in Mihalik-Thompson Stadium over the final three years of Mihalik's career.
This marks the second Coach of the Year honor for Mihalik. At the conclusion of the 2015 season, his peers named him the PSAC West Coach of the Year for the sixth time. Mihalik finished his 28th season as The Rock's head coach with a sterling 197-111-4 career record and a .638 career winning percentage, the most wins ever recorded by a Rock football coach.
He ranked second among active PSAC head coaches in career wins at the end of the 2015 season and ranks fourth overall on the conference's all-time wins chart. He also ranked fourth among all active NCAA Division II head coaches in career wins after the 2015 season and ranks 27th overall in total wins in Division II coaching history.
Rock teams won or shared eight PSAC Western Division championships (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015) under Mihalik's leadership and made six trips to the NCAA playoffs, including consecutive trips from 1997-99 and again from 2013-15.
Mihalik's retirement became official in mid-January, but he has remained active with the program. He coordinated the annual Rock Football Banquet in early February and is now working on plans for a jersey retirement celebration for former Rock football standout Brandon Fusco and the annual Rock Football Golf Outing.
"I'm going to try to take it all in and enjoy the experience," said Mihalik of the award ceremony in New York. "I know I'll be thinking of everyone that made wearing the Green and White such a privilege for me and my family and I'll be sharing this with everyone that has ever been a part of our program."
Plans are currently being finalized for a career celebration that will be hosted at SRU this summer to honor Mihalik's achievements.