Dabo Swinney

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney

HOUSTON — Clemson’s Dabo Swinney guided the Clemson Tigers to the verge of an undefeated season, carrying a No. 1 ranking into the playoffs and clawing their way toward a national championship until deep into the title game.

Although they came up short, they still finished 14-1 and No. 2 in the country. And on Wednesday night, Swinney was honored with the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award presented by the American Heart Association. His selection was announced at a fundraising ceremony in Houston sponsored by Marathon Oil Corporation.

Over its history, the award ceremony has raised more than $6 million to help fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the No. 1 and No. 5 killers of Americans.

American Heart Association, Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards: Champions with heart 30th anniversary. 2016 American Heart Association Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards presented by Marathon Oil CorporationBryant was among the legends of his profession when he died following a massive heart attack in 1983. This Coach of the Year award was established in his honor and has been given annually since 1986, with the twist of this being the only such prize that also factors in a bowl game. Voting is done by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Swinney was chosen over six other finalists, including Alabama’s Nick Saban, who beat him in the title game, as well as Larry Fedora of North Carolina, Kirk Ferentz of Iowa, Tom Herman of Houston, Ken Niumatalolo of Navy and David Shaw of Stanford.

BearbryantAlso at the ceremony, Mack Brown — who won a national championship at the University of Texas and finished runner-up another time — received the Lifetime Achievement Award. He’s the fifth honoree, joining Jimmy Johnson, R.C. Slocum, LaVell Edwards and Hayden Fry.