Northwestern’s David Braun named inaugural Paul “Bear” Bryant Newcomer Coach of the Year Award recipient

by | Dec 21, 2023 | news | 0 comments

HOUSTON, December 14, 2023 – The American Heart Association has named Northwestern’s David Braun as the first-ever recipient of the 2023 Paul “Bear” Bryant Newcomer Coach of the Year Award. This award celebrates the achievements of an individual who has not had any previous head coaching experience at the FBS level. Coach Braun will be recognized with the honor during the 2024 Bear Bryant Awards on January 10. Adding to his achievements, last week Coach Braun earned the Bear Bryant Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year Award and was named a finalist for the 2023 Bear Bryant Coach of the Year.

Braun began his coaching career in 2008 at his alma mater, Winona State. After several stops, he landed at North Dakota State where he was an extremely successful defensive coordinator. In January 2023, he was named defensive coordinator for Northwestern but just a short time later was thrust into the interim head coaching role. A late-season win over Wisconsin in Madison snapped a 14-game road losing streak for the Wildcats and the following week the interim title was removed. Northwestern finished the regular season with a 7-5 record—the most wins for any first-year football coach at the school since 1903. Their seven wins qualified them for their first bowl game since 2020.

In addition to the Newcomer Coach of the Year award, eight active coaches have been announced as the finalists for American Heart Association’s 2023 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award.  The award is given for contributions that make the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity and a winning approach to coaching and life. The finalists and Coach of the Year recipient are voted on by the National Sports Media Association, the Bryant Awards’ Executive Leadership Team, and the Bryant Family. The Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award winner will be announced live from Houston’s Post Oak Hotel on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, during an awards ceremony presented by Marathon Oil.

New for 2023, six of the finalists were also named individual Bear Bryant conference coaches of the year for their respective college conferences.

The 2023 Coach of the Year Finalists are (in alphabetical order by finalist last name):
David Braun – Northwestern University (Bear Bryant Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year)
Jamey Chadwell – Liberty University (Bear Bryant Group of Five Conference Coach of the Year)
Kalen DeBoer – University of Washington (Bear Bryant Pac-12 Conference Coach of the Year)
Eliah Drinkwitz – University of Missouri (Bear Bryant SEC Coach of the Year)
Rhett Lashlee – Southern Methodist University
Mike Norvell – Florida State University (Bear Bryant ACC Coach of the Year)
Nick Saban – University of Alabama
Steve Sarkisian – University of Texas at Austin (Bear Bryant Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year)

Now in its 38th year, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year award winner will be announced live from Houston’s Post Oak Hotel on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, during an awards ceremony presented by Marathon Oil.

The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all, and the Bryant family present the award annually to celebrate Bear Bryant’s legacy and raise awareness and critical funds for scientific research to eliminate needless suffering and death from cardiovascular disease and stroke, the leading causes of death globally. The football coaching legend died from a heart attack in 1983.

The Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards will also present Conference Coach of the Year Awards from each of the Power Five collegiate athletic conferences (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference) and one from the Group of Five conferences (American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference).

As previously announced, coaching legend Lloyd Carr, former University of Michigan head coach, and Archie Manning, former University of Mississippi and New Orleans Saints quarterback, and his wife Olivia will also be recognized at this year’s awards event. Coach Carr will receive the 2024 Paul “Bear” Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston, and Archie and Olivia Manning will receive the 2024 Heart of a Champion Award presented by St. Luke’s Health in Houston.

Marathon Oil Corporation, an independent exploration and production company based in Houston, has served as the presenting sponsor of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards for more than a decade, underscoring the company’s commitment to health and wellness and supporting initiatives that promote the well-being of workers and their families in the communities where it operates.

Fans can follow the action at, or or the hashtag #BryantAwards. To attend the exclusive, VIP experience visit

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, 𝕏 or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For Media Inquiries:

Steven Embree: 405-415-3039;
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) and