Babers Steps Down As EIU Football Coach, Garoppolo, Lora Named To All-American Team


Published on December 24 2013 7:42 am
Last Updated on December 24 2013 7:42 am
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Dino Babers has stepped down as the head coach of the Eastern Illinois football program to accept the head coaching position at Bowling Green State University.

Babers completed two seasons as the Panthers head coach leading the team to back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference Championships and FCS playoff berths.  The team was ranked No. 2 during the 2013 season posting a 12-2 record while advancing to the FCS Quarterfinals.  Babers was twice named the OVC Coach of the Year and the AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year.  This season he was the runner-up for the Eddie Robinson FCS Coach of the Year.

Babers coached back-to-back OVC Players of the Year in wide receiver Erik Lora (2012) and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (2013).  Garoppolo was named the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner on Monday.  His two year record at EIU was 19-7, 14-1 in the OVC.

“We would like to thank Coach Babers for his service to Eastern Illinois University and the Panther football program,” said EIU Athletic Director Barbara Burke.  “Coach Babers and his staff brought an exciting brand of football to Charleston 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.”

Burke stated that EIU would begin a search for a new head football coach in the coming days.

Garoppolo, Lora Named To All-American Team

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Eastern Illinois seniors Jimmy Garoppolo and Erik Lora were named to the Walter Camp Foundation All-American team on Wednesday.  The Walter Camp announces just a first team All-American squad.

Garoppolo was the 2013 Walter Payton Award winner as he earned first team All-American honors this season.  Garoppolo led all quarterbacks with 5,050 yards passing and 53 touchdowns.  The passing total was second all-time on the FCS single season list while the 53 touchdowns were the third most in FCS single season history.  Garoppolo finished his career holding every EIU and Ohio Valley Conference passing record and ranked sixth on the FCS career touchdown passes list and seventh on the career passing yards list.

Lora earned first team All-American honors for the second straight year becoming the first EIU player to accomplish that feat.  Lora hauled in 123 passes for 1,544 yards and 19 touchdowns.  His 123 receptions rank third on the FCS single season list and 13 shy of his FCS single season record set last season.  Lora ended his career as the EIU and OVC leader in pass receptions and receiving yards.  He owns the EIU and OVC single season records for receptions, receiving yards and touchdown receptions.  He finished his career second on the FCS receptions chart.

Eastern Illinois now has had eight Walter Camp All-Americans with Lora the only player to earn the award in multiple years.

The Panthers finished the season ranked No. 2 in the nation losing in the FCS Quarterfinal playoff round to end with a 12-2 record.