BY AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
HOUSTON — College football coaches Dabo Swinney of top-ranked Clemson and Nick Saban of second-ranked Alabama are among the finalists for the 2015 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award presented by the American Heart Association.
Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, David Shaw of Stanford, Tom Herman of Houston, Ken Niumatalolo of Navy and Larry Fedora of North Carolina are the other contenders for this honor, college football’s only top-coach prize determined after all bowl games are concluded. Finalists were announced Thursday.
The winner will be revealed at a ceremony in Houston on Jan. 13 – two days after the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Swinney’s Tigers and Saban’s Crimson Tide could meet in that game if their teams win semifinals on New Year’s Eve.
Bryant won more games than any college football coach before him, then died following a massive heart attack in 1983. This award was established in his honor and has been given annually since 1986, making the upcoming ceremony the 30th anniversary of the AHA’s involvement.
Over its history, the award ceremony – which is sponsored by Marathon Oil Corporation – has raised more than $6 million to help the AHA in its mission of fighting cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of Americans.
Saban won the award in 2003, when he coached LSU. He could become the second two-time winner of the award, and the first to do so at different schools. The only other two-time winner was Chris Petersen, who was honored for the 2006 and ’09 seasons. Saban also was a finalist last year, when TCU’s Gary Patterson was selected.
Mack Brown, who won a national championship at the University of Texas and finished runner-up another time, also will be honored at the Jan. 13 event. He will become the fifth recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, joining Jimmy Johnson, R.C. Slocum, LaVell Edwards and Hayden Fry.