A detailed history of the awards dating back to its origination in 1957.

No doubt the mention of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s name resonates with college football coaches, players and schools across the country. His legacy of greatness supersedes any loss on the field long after his departure.

Through the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards, a banquet in its 29th year going into the 2015 event, college football coaches are recognized for their contributions both on and off the field. Each year, one top performing coach is selected to take home the Bear bust trophy and claim the final title of the season: the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award.

Behind the scenes, the award is much bigger than a college football game and a season’s success. It is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on heart disease and stroke while raising valuable funds to support research of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

In 1983, Bear retired as the winningest coach in college football history, but he was unable to enjoy life after hanging up his whistle. A mere 28 days after coaching his last game and a final victory in the Liberty Bowl, he died of a heart attack on January 28, 1983 at the age of 69. The state of Alabama along with the nation mourned.

While the Coach of the Year Award has been an annual tradition since 1957, The Bryant Family felt moved to educate and impact awareness around heart disease and stroke following Bear’s passing. The family approached the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association to create a meaningful partnership to keep Bear’s legacy alive while raising funds to support research. In 1986, the American Heart Association adopted and re-named the award.

In the past 27 years since the award was renamed, the Bryant Awards has raised over $5 million to fund research, advocacy and educational programs across the country that are necessary for the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association is dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. The organization is second only to the federal government in funding cardiovascular research, and with heart disease claiming the lives of 787,000 annually, it is now more important than ever to support the organization’s efforts through programming like the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards.

Bear always talked about being bigger than something other than himself. The Bryant Awards offer an opportunity to do just that – to be a part of Team Bryant in the fight against heart disease and stroke.