Top 10 moments from 2012: No. 6

No. 6 on our countdown sums up what seemed like a month-long celebration for the 12-0 Irish.

As always, my mailbag is open to hear your suggestions on rankings such as these.

December: Notre Dame tours award circuit after perfect regular season (Stories here, here and here)

Notre Dame finished November with a 12-0 record and was heading to Miami to face Alabama in the Jan. 7 Discover BCS National Championship. But the month in between certainly had its busy moments for coaches and players who were touring the national award circuit.

Let's start with head coach Brian Kelly. In his third year in charge of the Irish, Kelly won five different coach-of-the-year awards: Eddie Robinson, Home Depot, Associated Press, Walter Camp and Liberty Mutual. He became the first two-time winner of the Home Depot coach of the year award, which he also captured in 2009 while at Cincinnati.

His assistant head coach, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, was given both the Frank Broyles Award (nation's top assistant) and the FootballScoop Defensive Coordinator of the Year award.

Kelly's star linebacker, Manti Te'o, became the most decorated player in college football history, winning a record seven national awards -- the Lott IMPACT Trophy, Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award, Butkus Award and Walter Camp player-of-the-year award. He was the first defensive player to win the Maxwell since 1980. And he was the Heisman Trophy runner-up, coming closer than any other strictly defensive player in college football history, notching 1,706 points. He spent the first week of December on a six-city, seven-day, 9,936-mile tour of the awards circuit. Te'o also won the Lowe's Senior CLASS award as the most outstanding senior student-athlete in the FBS.

Tight end Tyler Eifert, meanwhile, won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, and he, Te'o and defensive end Stephon Tuitt all were featured on national All-America teams.

Cornerback KeiVarae Russell was named a freshman All-American as well.


No. 10: Rees replaces Golson on final drive, leads Irish to win over Purdue.

No. 9: Irish open season in Dublin with rout of Navy.

No. 8: ND gets revenge on Robinson, Michigan in night victory to cap perfect opening month.

No. 7: ND survives missed FG, missed penalty and 3-OT scare from Pitt to stay perfect.