Two Western coaches recognized

Head football coach Willie Taggart was named the FootballScoop.com Running Backs Coach of the Year on Thursday. Taggart served as Stanford’s running backs coach for three years before being hired by the Toppers on Nov. 23.

Stanford senior running back Toby Gerhart and junior fullback Owen Marecic led the Cardinal to break a 60-year-old program record with 2,692 rushing yards.

Gerhart ranks second in the country in rushing yards and set Stanford’s single-season rushing record with 1,736 yards this season, breaking his own record of 1,136 yards in 2008. Gerhart was honored with the Doak Walker award for the nation’s top running back and finished second on the Heisman Trophy ballot to Alabama sophomore running back Mark Ingram.

Taggart was selected by a panel of current and former coaches and previous award winners and will be honored at the American Football Coaches Association Convention in January.

Head baseball coach Chris Finwood was also honored on Thursday, as Rivals.com writer Kendall Rogers named him one of the nation’s rising coaches.

Finwood, who has a 122-107 record entering his fifth year as the Toppers’ coach, has taken the team to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last two seasons. Western went 42-20 in 2009, the program’s first 40-win season in 21 years.

Other coaches on the list were Texas Christian’s Jim Schlossnagle, Gonzaga’s Mark Machtolf, Boston College’s Mik Aoki, Kansas’ Ritch Price, Larry Lee of Cal Poly, Kent State’s Scott Stricklin, Ray Birmingham of New Mexico, Rodney Hennon of Georgia Southern, Loyola Marymount’s Jason Gill and Jim Foster of Rhode Island.

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