Vols Josh Heupel Named Finalist For Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award
(utsports.com) KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After guiding Tennessee to a 10-win regular season and a No. 6 final position in the College Football Playoff rankings, head coach Josh Heupel has been tabbed as a finalist for the American Heart Association’s 2022 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, the organization announced on Tuesday.Heupel is one of six finalists for the award, which recognizes the country’s top college football coaches for their contributions both on and off the field, making the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity and a winning approach to coaching and life. He joins TCU’s Sonny Dykes, Tulane’s Willie Fritz, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Georgia’s Kirby Smart and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor. Heupel was also a finalist for the award in 2018 after leading UCF to a perfect 11-0 regular season in his first season with the Knights. Heupel has lifted the Volunteers to national prominence in his two seasons, compiling a 17-8 record with the nation’s No. 1 offense that has set numerous school records. This season, saw the Vols climb to No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings for the first time via victories over Florida, LSU and Alabama. Heupel became just the third UT head coach in the last 60 years to lead the Vols to 10 or more wins in his first or second season, joining Phillip Fulmer and Bill Battle. After being picked to finish third in the SEC East in the preseason, Tennessee secured second place and its first Orange Bowl appearance in 25 years. Heupel also tutored quarterback Hendon Hooker, who finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting—the highest by a Volunteer since Peyton Manning in 1997. Heupel and the Vols aim for their first 11-win campaign since 2001 when they take on No. 7 Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. ET on Dec. 30 in Miami. The Bryant Coach of the Year Award is voted on by the National Sports Media Association, current NCAA College football coaches, former Coach of the Year Award winners, the Bryant Awards’ Executive Leadership Team and the Bryant family. Now in its 37th year, the Bryant Coach of the Year award winner will be announced from Houston’s Post Oak Hotel on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, during an awards ceremony.