OSU’s Tressel recipient of #039;Bear Bryant#039; award

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 17, 2003

HOUSTON -- Jim Tressel, who led Ohio State to the national championship, won the Bear Bryant Award on Thursday night as the college football coach of the year.

The Buckeyes beat defending national champion Miami 31-24 in a thrilling double-overtime Fiesta Bowl for the title on Jan. 3.

Tressel won the honor over Miami's Larry Coker and six other finalists. The Bryant Award is presented by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

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Coker was the Bryant Award winner last year.

The Buckeyes won their first national championship since 1968 in Tressel's second season as head coach. Ohio State's victory snapped Miami's 34-game winning streak.

''When you are at places like Oklahoma or Ohio State, you're expected to get it done your first day on the job,'' Tressel said. ''I thought the first year that we had adequate talent if we did everything right we could be successful.

''The ball bounced right for us early this year. I knew we had to do things almost perfect because I knew we weren't dominant.''

Tressel earlier was chosen the American Football Coaches Association coach of the year.

''I am extremely honored to receive this prestigious award named after such a legendary coach,'' Tressel said. ''I have the utmost respect for the other finalists. This event is a great time for old friends to get together and support a worthy cause.''

Other Bryant Award finalists were Iowa's Kirk Ferentz; former Alabama coach Dennis Franchione, now head coach at Texas A&M; former Washington State coach Mike Price, now coach at Alabama; Georgia's Mark Richt; Southern California's Pete Carroll and Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham..