UNI’s Ben Jacobson Sets Record With Fifth Coach of the Year Award
Ben Jacobson set himself apart from any other coach in UNI history a long time ago. Since the Panthers joined the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in 1991, only one other coach has won the MVC Coach of the Year (Eldon Miller, 1996-1997). Coach Jake topped that in 2010 when he won the award for the second year in a row.
Now, he's added to his already-glowing MVC coaching resume.
Announced at the Coaches' Luncheon in St. Louis, Missouri today, Coach Jake won his record fifth MVC Coach of the Year award.
Overall, he's won 319 games as coach of the Panthers since taking over in 2006. That's the active leader in the conference, and fourth-most ever. He ranks third in conference-only wins with 174.
He's led three young men to winning the Larry Bird Trophy -- Adam Koch (2010), Seth Tuttle (2015), and AJ Green (2020, 2022).
This season, the Panthers claimed the program's fourth regular-season championship and third outright in school history this season. They've also won the MVC Tournament and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament four times (2009, 2010, 2015, 2016).
Jacobson is really good at his job. So good that he's won the most MVC Coach of the Year awards ever. Considering the illustrious, 155-year history of this league, that's a hell of a feat.
After receiving the award, Jacobson had this to say about how the program has remained so consistent:
(It's) the players. Our staff has done a terrific job of recruiting. ... That's what I think about first -- our players. They've taken a tremendous amount of pride in playing basketball at a high level. ... I'm really proud of them for putting in that kind of work. ... I've been very fortunate.
Coaches like Henry Iba, Dana Altman, Ken Hayes, Greg Marshall, Maury John, Porter Moser, Greg McDermott, and Tubby Smith have come through the conference -- and only four other coaches have won the award three times -- Jacobson finds himself in rarified air.
This season, after the Panthers started the season 4-7, they enter the conference tournament 18-10.
UNI will take on the Illinois State Redbirds in the quarterfinals of the tournament tomorrow at noon.
Coach Jake added this at the end of his availability in the MVC Coaches' presser:
You can feel a sense (that) there's more that we're going to be a part of. It's going to be an unbelievable tournament. It's going to take everything we've got. You can just feel it from our guys -- there's more that they want.