Dan Werner

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 16, 2012

Former ND head coach nominated for award

Ole Miss’ Dan Werner was nominated this week for the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award, to be announced at the end of the season.

Werner, the Rebels’ co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and former North Delta head coach, has returned to college coaching – while remaining focused on his primary duties as a fulltime single father – after the death of his wife in 2009.

A longtime college assistant coach – he was a part of three national championships at Miami – Werner had just taken a job as offensive coordinator of Northwestern (La.) State when his wife, Kim, died unexpectedly of heart-related issues in February 2009.

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With two young children to care for – Maya, then 10, and Ian, then 5, who had special needs– he took a job at North Delta, a private high school. At 50, his priorities changed.

“At one point in my life,” he told the ND headmaster John Howell according to Yahoo! Sports, “I wanted to be the top coach in America. Now I just want to be a great dad.”

Werner spent the next three years there, turning away assistant coach offers. North Delta went 27-7 and won two district championships. He settled into life as a single father and high school coach.

“I became a much better parent,” he told Yahoo!, “(by) finding out what real families are supposed to be like.”

Hugh Freeze was hired by Ole Miss, a few miles up the road where he and Werner had been assistants along under Ed Orgeron. Freeze of Werner the co-offensive coordinator’s position Werner consulted with Maya, 13, and Ian, 7, and then accepted the job with family restrictions.

A blue-ribbon panel will determine the winner from all of the nominees. The winner of the Discover Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award will be announced in December and be presented with the trophy during the week of the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game.