- Associated Press - Monday, January 9, 2012

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Les Miles came out a winner even before LSU faced Alabama in Monday night’s BCS title game.

Miles won the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award for the Football Bowl Subdivision after he led the top-ranked Tigers to a perfect regular-season record and an SEC championship.

Miles was busy preparing his team for the No. 2 Crimson Tide, but said in a video recorded Sunday that he was honored to receive the award, which is given to the coach who is voted the best example of sportsmanship, integrity, responsibility and excellence on and off the field.

Montana State’s Rob Ash was honored in the Football Championship Subdivision, Pittsburg State’s Tim Beck in Division II and St. Thomas’ Glenn Caruso in Division III.

“It’s a tremendous award and could not have been achieved in any way without the efforts of many others,” Miles said. “My football team works hard on the field and in the classroom, my coaching staff puts in long hours, and I represent a great institution at LSU.”

Winners were chosen through a combination of fan voting and ballots cast by members of the College Football Hall of Fame, coaches and the media. Each coach received a $50,000 charitable donation from Liberty Mutual and a $20,000 scholarship award to their school’s alumni association.

Auburn’s Gene Chizik won the award last year shortly before his team won the national title.

“A long time ago when I played, we didn’t get out in the community enough,” said Archie Manning, who presented the awards as chairman of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame. “Now there’s these organized events where football players and teams get out in the community and get involved, and it’s really special.”

Ash led Montana State to a 10-3 record and its second straight playoff berth this season, along with supporting Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the United Way and other nonprofit organizations.

Beck helped Pittsburg State to a 13-1 record and its first national championship in 20 years in just his second season as head coach. The longtime assistant is also involved in fundraising efforts for aplastic anemia and a local program called “Angels Among Us.”

Caruso became the first two-time winner of the award after taking St. Thomas to the Division III semifinals. He’s also the founder of “Bucky’s Pride,” which supports families of children fighting cancer and blood diseases, and a program to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

“As I get older, I realize the community and environment that one lives in has such a huge effect on how one does his job, and I’m certainly no exception to that,” he said. “It’s always been about the kids, and the opportunity to add value to their lives in some shape or form.”

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