The 31st Annual Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards event was held on Wednesday evening at the Houston Toyota Center. Coaches and prominent sports figures from throughout the country mingled with guests during a reception before a seated dinner, which culminated in the presentation of both the Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award.
AVERA Companies was a sponsor for the event, which benefits the American Heart and American Stroke Associations. Lance Odom, partner at Avera, was a member of this year’s Leadership Committee.
Former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez was honored at the event, receiving the 2016 Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award, which highlights the outstanding achievements and extraordinary contributions which have reflected honor and sportsmanship to the game of football throughout the coach’s career. The winningest coach in Wisconsin history, Alvarez went 119 – 74‑4 from 990‑2005 and is the only Big Ten coach to ever win the Rose Bowl in consecutive seasons.
The 2016 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award finalists were Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan), James Franklin (Penn State), Clay Helton (USC), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Mike MacIntyre,(Colorado), Nick Saban (Alabama), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).
For the second straight year, Coach Dabo Swinney of Clemson University was the recipient of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award, receiving the honor just two days after winning the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Swinney is the first back-to-back winner and joins Boise State’s Chris Petersen (2006 and 2009) as the only two-time recipients of the award.
The College Football Coach of the Year Award began in 1957 and was renamed for Coach Bryant in 1986, following his death by a heart attack in 1983. Since The Bryant Awards were renamed, the related events have raised over $6 million for the American Heart and American Stroke Associations to fund research, advocacy and educational programs across the country that are necessary for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke.