Clemson head football coach Dabo Swinney’s winning season didn’t end with Monday’s thrill-packed last-second win over Alabama for the College Football National Championship.
Wednesday evening, Swinney was named college football Coach of the Year at the American Heart Association’s 31st annual Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards, held at downtown's Toyota Center and presented by Marathon Oil Corporation.
This is the second straight win for Swinney, who is the first coach in the Bryant Awards history to be recognized as Coach of the Year in consecutive seasons (’15 and ’16) and just the second coach to win the award twice. Swinney, who is 52-8 in his last 60 games, coached Clemson to a 14-1 season in 2016 and a 35-31 win over Bama in the championship game.
The coveted award, named for the distinguished longtime head coach of the University of Alabama football team, is bestowed by the National Sports Media Association in recognition of an elite group of coaches for their distinguished leadership on and off the field.
Swinney, who admitted to a lack of sleep since Monday’s big game, due to excitement and a busy media schedule, accepted the honor in front of a crowd of 800 guests saying, “Coach Bryant to me is one of the greatest givers and that’s how we should be measured — by how much we give not what we take. Coach Bryant was such a great giver and he was my hero."
The recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Barry Alvarez, athletic director and former head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, echoed Swinney’s sentiments, “The name alone speaks a bulk of excellence and tonight that is what this award represents and it’s obvious why the honor is named after Bear Bryant.”
Alvarez is praised for revitalizing the Badgers’ football program during his coaching tenure from 1990-2005 and is the winningest coach in Wisconsin football history (119-74-4 record).
Funds raised from the event benefit American Heart Association research, advocacy and educational programs aimed at the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Other finalists for Coach of the Year in attendance were Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan), James Franklin (Penn State), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), and Clay Helton (University of Southern California), who was the running backs coach at the University of Houston, his alma mater, from 1997-99, working under his father, head coach Kim Helton.
Seen in the crowd were Houston Texans wide receiver Braxton Miller (whose father, Kevin, has had two different open-heart surgeries), former Boston Globe sportswriter Bob Ryan, Jim McIngvale (who donated several mattresses up for auction), Cullen Kappler, Lance Odom, Travis Torrence, Lauren Varnado, Kathy Zay, Kathy and Peter Huddleston, Tammy and Justin Comeaux, Josh and Jill Sherman, Dane Cleven, Nick Hiemstra, Chuck Wall, and John Anderson.
In case you missed it, you can catch the program on Fox Sports Southwest on Sunday, January 22, at 9 pm CST.