Boise State coach Petersen wins Bear Bryant award
HOUSTON – Boise State’s Chris Petersen won the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award on Thursday night, the second time in four years he’s earned the honor recognizing the nation’s best coach.
The Broncos finished a 14-0 season with a 17-10 win over previously unbeaten TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State went undefeated through the regular season for the third time in Petersen’s four years.
Petersen also won the Bryant award in 2006, after the Broncos completed another perfect season with a 43-42 win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos are 49-4 under Petersen, including a 31-1 record in the Western Athletic Conference.
“It’s an honor for our program,” he said. “Every time Boise State’s name is mentioned with these other universities and these coaches, it’s really overwhelming. We’re just so appreciative for the opportunity to be here.”
Petersen is the first two-time winner of the award, given since 1986. He beat out Alabama’s Nick Saban, who led the Crimson Tide to a 37-21 win over Texas in the BCS championship game and an undefeated season. Saban won the Bryant Award in 2003, when he coached LSU.
The other finalists this year included Texas coach Mack Brown, Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin.
The award is given by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, and Thursday’s awards banquet in Houston was organized by the American Heart Association.
The Broncos finished fourth in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll and will lose only four seniors from their roster next season. Petersen, also named the WAC Coach of the Year, doesn’t think his players will be fazed by higher-than-ever expectations.
“I know we’re going to be ranked high,” he said. “Where that is, I don’t know, it doesn’t really matter. Preseason rankings don’t mean a lot to me and hopefully they won’t mean a lot to the kids in our program.
“We can’t let that derail us. We need that to drive us, and I think we’re a pretty driven program already.”
Boise State and Alabama were the only teams to finish unbeaten, but Petersen conceded that the Crimson Tide should be honored as the national champion.
Petersen smiled when asked if he would’ve liked to play the Crimson Tide in a winner-take-all showdown after the teams won their bowl games.
“No, I’m good,” he said. “Let everybody else debate that.”
Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the association on Thursday.
Dooley, 77, guided the Bulldogs to a 201-77-10 record, six Southeastern Conference championships and one national title (1980) in 25 seasons. He served as Georgia’s athletics director from 1979-2004 and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1994.