The 32nd Annual Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards event was held on Wednesday evening at the Hilton Americas Houston. 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.
The 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, was given to Steve Spurrier, former head coach at the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina and Duke University. Spurrier is one of only four individuals named to the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 playing for the University of Florida.
The 2017 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award finalists were Paul Chryst (Wisconsin), Clay Helton (University of Southern California), Gus Malzahn (Auburn University), Jeff Monken (Army), Kirby Smart (University of Georgia), and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).
This year Scott Frost, formerly of the University of Central Florida, and current head coach at the University of Nebraska, was the recipient of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award, having led UCF to beat Auburn 34 – 27 in the Peach Bowl to finish 13 – 0. UCF finished ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll of the season, receiving four first place votes.
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.