HOUSTON (AP) — Dabo Swinney won his second straight Paul "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year award Wednesday night, two days after leading Clemson to its first national championship in 35 years.
Swinney is only the second coach to win the award twice, joining Chris Petersen — the winner in 2006 and 2009 at Boise State — and the first to win it in back-to-back seasons.
"Both just incredibly special," Swinney said. "Fresh off a national championship win against Alabama and to be chosen and honored this way again is just something I never ever would have dreamed of ever."
Swinney led Clemson to back-to-back appearances in the national championship game, avenging last year's loss to Alabama on Monday night with a 35-31 victory over the Crimson Tide. The Tigers are 89-28 in eight seasons under Swinney, going 28-2 the last two seasons.
"It's been really beautiful to watch and really beautiful to be a part of," Swinney said. "The best thing is I know we've changed a lot of people's lives. The best accomplishment we have is not the national championship, not the bowl wins. It's we've had 135 seniors and 129 graduates and we have 21 more getting ready to be added to that this year."
Swinney played wide receiver at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide win the 1992 national championship. He's the second man to win an Associated Press national championship as a player and a coach, joining former Minnesota player and Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson.
Barry Alvarez, the long-time Wisconsin coach and current athletic director, received the Paul "Bear" Bryant Lifetime Achievement award.
"I went back and took a look at the names," Alvarez said. "I see friends, I see two of my mentors Hayden Fry and Lou Holtz on the list. I see guys that I've idolized in the coaching business my entire life. Guys that did it right. To be able to add my name to that list I'm very humbled."