HOUSTON, October 19, 2022 — Twenty-five active college football coaches make up the American Heart Association’s 2022 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award watch list, a list of current coaches in consideration for the annual top honor. The award is given each January to a college football coach for contributions that make the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity and a winning approach to coaching and life- both on and off the field.

The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all, and the Bryant family present this award annually to celebrate Bear Bryant’s legacy and raise awareness and critical funds for scientific research to eliminate needless suffering and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke, the leading causes of death globally. The football coaching legend died from a heart attack in 1983.

Now in its 37th year, the Coach of the Year award winner will be announced live from Houston’s Post Oak Hotel on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, during an awards ceremony presented by Marathon Oil. The Watch List, Finalists and Coach of the Year recipient are voted on by the National Sports Media Association, the Bryant Awards’ Executive Leadership Team and the Bryant Family.

The 2022 Watch List includes (in alphabetical order):

Atlantic Coast Conference

  • Dino Babers - Syracuse University
  • Mack Brown - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dave Clawson - Wake Forest University
  • Dabo Swinney - Clemson University

Big Ten Conference

  • Bret Bielema - University of Illinois
  • Ryan Day - Ohio State University
  • Jim Harbaugh - University of Michigan

Big 12 Conference

  • Sonny Dykes - Texas Christian University
  • Mike Gundy - Oklahoma State University
  • Chris Klieman - Kansas State University
  • Lance Leipold – University of Kansas
  • Steve Sarkisian - University of Texas at Austin

Group of Five Conferences

  • Willie Fritz - Tulane University - American Athletic Conference
  • Gus Malzahn - University of Central Florida – American Athletic Conference
  • Jeff Traylor - University of Texas at San Antonio - Conference USA
  • Kane Wommack - University of South Alabama - Sun Belt Conference

Pac-12 Conference

  • Chip Kelly - University of California, Los Angeles
  • Dan Lanning - University of Oregon
  • Lincoln Riley - University of Southern California
  • Kyle Whittingham – University of Utah

Southeastern Conference

  • Josh Heupel - University of Tennessee
  • Lane Kiffin - University of Mississippi
  • Nick Saban - University of Alabama
  • Kirby Smart - University of Georgia
  • Mark Stoops - University of Kentucky

In addition to the Coach of the Year, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards will also present Conference Coach of the Year Awards from each of the Power Five collegiate athletic conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference) and one from the Group of Five conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference). The 2022 award cycle marks just the third year that the individual conference coach recognitions will be granted.

As previously announced, coaching legends Bob Stoops, former University of Oklahoma head coach, and Mark Dantonio, former Michigan State University head coach, will also be recognized at this year’s awards event. Coach Stoops will receive the 2023 Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, and Coach Dantonio will receive the 2023 Heart of a Champion Award presented by St. Luke’s Health in Houston.

Marathon Oil Corporation, an independent exploration and production company based in Houston, has served as the presenting sponsor of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards for more than a decade, underscoring the company’s commitment to health and wellness and supporting initiatives that promote the well-being of workers and their families in the communities where it operates. 

“We are honored to be the presenting sponsor for an award that recognizes college football coaches’ accomplishments on and off the field,” said Lee Tillman, Marathon Oil chairman, president and CEO. “We look forward to continuing our long-standing collaboration with the American Heart Association and the Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Awards to carry on the legacy and impact they bring nationwide.

Fans can follow the action at facebook.com/bryantawards, twitter.com/bryantawards or Instagram.com/bryantawards or the hashtag #BryantAwards. For more information on the awards, sponsorship opportunities, or to attend the 2023 Bryant Awards, contact dan.darmond@heart.org or visit bryantawards.org.

Photos are available on the right column of the release link.


About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.   

For Media Inquiries:

Adele Brady; 281-782-0110, adele.brady@heart.org

For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721)

heart.org and stroke.org