The 29th annual Bear Bryant Awards banquet, presented by the American Heart Association and Marathon Oil Corporation, was held tonight in Houston. The award is given to the college football coach of the year, as voted by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. This years finalists were:

  • Jimbo Fisher, Florida State University
  • Hugh Freeze, University of Mississippi
  • Bryan Harsin, Boise State University
  • Gary Patterson, Texas Christian University (note: Nick Saban from the University of Alabama was a finalist but could not attend due to a previous commitment)

This event also recognizes a coach for excellence throughout his college career with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Past Lifetime Achievement Award members include LaVell Edwards, Hayden Frye, RC Slocum, and Bobby Bowden. This year’s recipient was Jimmy Johnson, who is a highly respected coach both in the NCAA and in the NFL. For Johnson, this event hit home:

“For me, this event holds great significance, not only because of the respect and admiration I have for Coach Bryant, but also because I have had my own heart issues. So anything I can do to help raise awareness, I’m all for it.”

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Hugh Freeze did give an update in regards to Chad Kelly, the talented QB who recently had criminal charges dropped stemming from fight outside of a Buffalo nightclub (Audio of quote can be heard here at our friends from The Rebel Walk)

“Chad…I had a meeting with him this morning before I left. I feel good about where things are. School starts next Wednesday, I believe. If he continues on the journey he’s on, we’re gonna give it a go together. We’re gonna handcuff ourselves together. I believe in the redemptive quality of man, to give a guy a chance.”

“He’s obviously made mistakes. He hasn’t made them with us yet. We all think we can be a difference. If I don’t, then I tried and I’ll take some criticism. But you know, I try not to listen to criticism or praise. I’m just really about the redemptive quality of man and giving a kid a chance. Now he has to complete everything that I’ve laid out for him before the green light is given. Everything to this point points in the direction that he’s on track to do that.”

Gary Patterson was asked about TCU being left out of the college football playoff this year:

“First, I want to say hats off to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State University. They are a great football team and deserved national champions. But I’ve told my team that we can only control what’s in front of us. We can’t worry about the outside things, but we can put out a good effort every week. If we do that, everything will work itself out.”

The awards also included VIP packages and a silent auction. Items such as autographed helmets, vacation getaways, and even guitars were available for bid, with proceeds benefitting the American Heart Association.