Chizik finalist for Bear Bryant Award

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik has been named a finalist for the 2010 Paul "Bear" Bryant Award, the American Heart Association and Marathon Oil have announced.

The Paul "Bear" Bryant Award honors excellence in coaching while raising funds to fight heart disease and stroke, the nation's No. 1 and No. 4 killers, respectively. The Bryant Award is the only college football coaching honor voted on after all bowl games are played.

Chizik has guided Auburn to a 13-0 record, the Southeastern Conference title and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game this season. After starting the season ranked No. 22 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll, the Tigers have climbed to a No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings and in the AP and Harris Interactive polls.

Chizik's squad has defeated six teams that are ranked in the top 25 of the BCS standings and the AP poll. No other team has beaten more than four. Nine of Auburn's 13 victories have come against teams going to bowl games this season.

Chizik, who has already been honored as the Home Depot National Coach of the Year this season, saw his team rally from four double-digit deficits to win this season, including the largest comeback in school history when the Tigers turned a 24-0 deficit at Alabama into a 28-27 victory. Auburn is 5-2 after trailing by double digits in Chizik's first two seasons, after going 4-44 over the 14 seasons prior to his arrival in such games.

Chizik has also excelled in close games, as the Tigers won six games this season by single digits, including four games that were decided by just three points or less, which is the most since 1960. Auburn has won eight games in his two seasons in which the Tigers trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter.

Joining Chizik as finalists for the award are Chris Ault (Nevada), Bret Bielema (Wisconsin), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Jim Harbaugh (Stanford), Chip Kelly (Oregon), Gary Patterson (TCU), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) and Mike Sherman (Texas A&M).

The winner of the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award will be announced live at an awards dinner benefiting the American Heart Association on Jan. 18, 2011 at the Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel and Convention Center in downtown Houston. The event will also recognize Florida State's renowned former coach, Bobby Bowden, as the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Recipient.