College football coaches Nick Saban of Alabama and Jimbo Fisher of Florida State are among five finalists for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award presented by the American Heart Association.
Bryant was among the legends of his profession when he died following a massive heart attack in 1983. This Coach of the Year award was established in his honor and has been given annually since 1986, with the twist of this being the only such prize that also factors in a bowl game.
The winner will be named Jan. 14, two days after the national championship game, at a ceremony in Houston that is sponsored by Marathon Oil Corporation. Over its history, the award ceremony has raised more than $5 million to help fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 4 killers of Americans.
Fisher’s Seminoles and Saban’s Crimson Tide are among the four teams in the first-ever College Football Playoff. The Seminoles are the reigning national champions and winners of 29 straight games, while the Crimson Tide go into the postseason ranked No. 1 and having won the two national championships before Florida State.
The other three Bryant Award finalists are Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss, Bryan Harsin of Boise State and Gary Patterson of TCU.
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, Harsin’s predecessor, who was honored for the 2006 and ’09 seasons.
Jimmy Johnson — the first coach to win a national championship in college football and the Super Bowl — also will be honored at the Jan. 14 event. He will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, joining recent recipients R.C. Slocum, LaVell Edwards and Hayden Fry.
Johnson’s selection was announced in September. At the time, he released the following video.
This is the sixth year that Marathon Oil Corporation has been the event’s title sponsor.
Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available for the Jan. 14 event.