HOUSTON, TEXAS (December 15, 2011) Baylor head coach Art Briles has been selected as one of 10 finalists for the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, as announced by The American Heart Association Wednesday.
Briles, who is in his fourth season as head coach of the Bears, has led Baylor to a 9-3 record and a berth in the Valero Alamo Bowl. Baylor’s No. 12 ranking in the latest BCS Standings is the program’s highest ever, and the 11 weeks the Bears have been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll this season are its most since being ranked for 12 weeks in 1951.
Briles has coached Baylor to its first nine-win season since 1986 and guided the Bears to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1991-92. Baylor’s 16 wins over the last two seasons are its most since winning 18 games between 1985 and 1986. With a win in the Valero Alamo Bowl, Baylor would record the second 10-win season in program history.
The Bears also knocked off Oklahoma for the first time in program history and defeated Texas in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1991-92. Baylor’s win over Texas Tech was its first against the Red Raiders in the Big 12 era, and it clinched a perfect 4-0 record in the month of November. Those four wins equaled Baylor’s total number of November wins in the first 15 seasons of Big 12 play.
Team success translated into individual awards, as quarterback Robert Griffin III became the first Baylor player to win the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award. Additionally, RG3 was joined by Kendall Wright on The Associated Press All-America teams, giving the Bears two AP All-Americans for the first time since 1991.
The Coach of the Year Award will be announced during the 26th annual Marathon Oil Corporation Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards on January 19 in Houston. The event raises funds for heart disease in the name of Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Joining Briles as finalists for Coach of the Year are: Bret Bielema (Wisconsin), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Brady Hoke (Michigan), Les Miles (LSU), Nick Saban (Alabama), David Shaw (Stanford), Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Kevin Sumlin (Houston) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson).