The Gateway Football Conference began in 1985, and the league’s first players of the year were QB Mike Smith (Northern Iowa) and LBs Mark Farley (UNI) and James Houston (Southwest Missouri State). Darrell Mudra of Northern Iowa was the Gateway’s first Coach of the Year. Since 1985, the conference has added an award for Newcomer of the Year (1994) and Freshman of the Year (1999). Annually, the Conference selects an all-conference team, an all-academic team, an all-newcomer team, plus in-season Player of the Week honors.
The All-Gateway Conference teams are selected by a panel consisting of league coaches, sports information directors and media. The Gateway Coach of the Year Honor is named in honor of the late Bruce Craddock, who died of liver cancer at the age of 46 in February of 1990. Craddock coached seven seasons at Western Illinois, compiling a 41-35-1 record.
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