By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

Former University of Central Florida head coach and new Nebraska coach Scott Frost received the Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award at a ceremony Wednesday in Houston. (Photo by American Heart Association)

Former University of Central Florida head coach and new Nebraska coach Scott Frost received the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award at a ceremony Wednesday in Houston. (Photo by American Heart Association)

HOUSTON – The season before Scott Frost became coach at the University of Central Florida, the football team failed to win a game. This season, just his second in charge, UCF won every game.

Frost’s remarkable work has earned him a collection of coach of the year awards, with the capper coming Wednesday night when he received the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award presented by the American Heart Association.

“Thank you all so much,” Frost said in accepting the award. “This means a lot.”

The Bryant Award is college football’s only top-coach honor determined after all the bowl games have been played. It is named for the man who retired with the most wins in college football history; Bryant died following a massive heart attack in 1983, and the award was established in his honor. It’s been given annually since 1986.

Because Central Florida plays in a conference outside the so-called “Power 5,” its perfect season wasn’t enough to earn one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff. UCF still went to a bowl game and won, capping its season at 13-0. The Knights finished sixth in the season-ending Associated Press poll, even receiving four first-place votes.

Frost coached UCF in the bowl game even though he’s already taken a new job. He’s headed to his alma mater, Nebraska. In addition to the nostalgia of returning home, working in the Big Ten – one of those Power 5 leagues – gives him a better chance of winning a national championship.

Frost is the first coach from outside a Power 5 conference to win the Bryant Award since Chris Petersen of Boise State in 2009.

“Thank you also for thinking of the little guy,” Frost said. “Now charge on UCF and go Big Red.”

Frost’s selection came at a ceremony sponsored by Marathon Oil Corporation. Over its history, the event has raised more than $7 million to fund AHA research, advocacy and educational programs across the country.

The event was aired live on Fox College Sports. It will be replayed on various Fox Sports affiliates over the next month.

The selection was made by the National Sports Media Association, formerly known as National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Voters chose Frost over a group of finalists that included Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who’d won the award each of the past two years. Other finalists were Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst, USC’s Clay Helton, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Army’s Jeff Monken and Georgia’s Kirby Smart.

Steve Spurrier was honored with the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by American Heart Association)

Steve Spurrier was honored with the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by American Heart Association)

The event also included the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Steve Spurrier, who is one of only four people enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 for Florida, and later coached his alma mater. He also coached at South Carolina and Duke. He left Florida and South Carolina with the most wins by a coach at each school. However, over 25 years of coaching, he never won the Bryant Award.

“Winning the Lifetime Achievement Coach Bryant Award is just as good,” he said.

Previous winners of the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award include Mack Brown, Jimmy Johnson, R.C. Slocum, Barry Alvarez, LaVell Edwards and Hayden Fry.

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