The Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards committee of the American Heart Association has named Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach among its Bryant College Football Coach of the Year finalists. The winner will be voted on by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA) and named live at an awards dinner benefiting the American Heart Association on Jan. 15, 2009, at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Houston.
The selection committee consists of current and past event chairmen, Bryant family representatives, NSSA representatives, college football sports analysts and former collegiate players and coaches. The Bryant College Football Coach of the Year is the only college coaching award given after all the bowl games have finished.
Also during the January event, Oklahoma legend and Super Bowl Champion, Coach Barry Switzer, will receive the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes excellence in coaching on and off the field during a career, allowing recipients to take their place in history alongside legends such as Bryant. Recent Lifetime Achievement recipients include Tom Osborne, Glenn "Bo" Schembechler, Jack Pardee and Lou Holtz.
The 2008 Paul Bear Bryant College Football Coach of the Year Finalists, in alphabetical order: Mack Brown, University of Texas; Turner Gill, University at Buffalo; Mike Leach, Texas Tech University; Houston Nutt, University of Mississippi; Chris Petersen, Boise State University; Nick Saban, University of Alabama; Bob Stoops, University of Oklahoma and Kyle Whittingham, University of Utah.
ABOUT THE PAUL BEAR BRYANT AWARDS
While the Coach of the Year Award has been an annual tradition since 1957, the American Heart Association adopted and re-named the award in 1986 to honor Paul Bear Bryant, who died of a heart attack in 1983. A Lifetime Achievement Award was added in 2000 to recognize career achievements. The Paul Bear Bryant College Football Coaching Awards appropriately has become a major annual fundraiser for the Houston Division of the American Heart Association, with many business and community leaders and sports figures annually lending support to the event. The American Heart Association leads the fight against heart disease and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 3 killers in the U.S., through research, education and advocacy programs. For more information visit: click here.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL SPORTSCASTERS AND SPORTSWRITERS ASSOCIATION
With more than 700 members, the NSSA was originally formed in 1959 to honor sportscasters and sportswriters in the Carolinas. In 1960, the NSSA expanded to a national association and annually recognizes the National Sportscaster of the Year and the National Sportswriter of the Year.