Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell named 2021 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year

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(SportsRadio 610) - Coach Luke Fickell from the University of Cincinnati was named college football Coach of the Year at the American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards, presented by Marathon Oil. The 36th annual awards program benefits the Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all.

In his fifth season as head coach at Cincinnati, Fickell led the Bearcats to a perfect 13-0 regular season record in 2021. The only undefeated team in the country, Cincinnati was selected as the No. 4 seed in the College Football Playoff, making them the first team ever chosen from the Group of Five conferences.

In accepting the award this evening, Coach Fickell said, "Thank you to the American Heart Association for saving lives and to the Bryant Family. To be in the same realm of the guys nominated tonight, it’s an honor. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as ‘Bear’ Bryant is incredible. Football is the greatest team sport known to man. To us, ‘T-E-A-M’ means ‘Together, everyone achieves more.’ On behalf of the University of Cincinnati, an amazing coaching staff, this team and the seniors who created the atmosphere, culture, style and expectation, it is my honor to accept this award. Thank you to our team and the 32 seniors that made this season incredibly special. It’s truly humbling and an honor. It has been an amazing ride.”

Held tonight in Houston and broadcast live by the Bally Sports Southwest sports channel, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award annually recognizes the country’s top college football coach for coaching excellence and leadership. The 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.

In 1983, football coaching legend, Paul “Bear” Bryant, died from a heart attack. Moved to amplify and drive education surrounding heart disease after his passing, the Bryant family teamed up with the American Heart Association in 1986, building on the Association’s Coach of the Year Award to create the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards program. Each year since then, the awards have celebrated “Bear’s” legacy by recognizing coaching excellence while raising critical funds for research to eradicate cardiovascular disease. Funds are raised through event sponsorships, an auction and individual charitable donations.

Mel Edwards, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of American Heart Association’s Houston Division said, “Congratulations to Coach Fickell! We are excited to use the platform of this award to reach new audiences for the American Heart Association’s mission, giving us the opportunity to educate and empower people about heart health on a bigger field. We are meeting people where they are and sharing a message that resonates about heart-healthy lifestyles that athletes follow to stay gameday fit. Coach Fickell embodies that every day.”