Boise State coach Petersen wins Bear Bryant award

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Boise State coach Petersen wins Bear Bryant award

By CHRIS DUNCAN
AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) — Boise State coach Chris Petersen happily concedes
that Alabama is college football’s national champion.

He’s just glad his Broncos are mentioned in the debate.

Petersen won the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award on Thursday night, the
second time in four years he’s earned the honor recognizing the
nation’s best coach.

The Broncos finished a 14-0 season with a 17-10 win over
previously unbeaten TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

Petersen, the first two-time winner of the award, beat out
Alabama’s Nick Saban, who led the Crimson Tide to a 37-21 win
over Texas in the BCS championship game and an undefeated
season. Saban won the Bryant Award in 2003, when he coached LSU
to the BCS national title.

Petersen smiled when asked if he would’ve liked to play the Tide
in a winner-take-all showdown after the teams won their bowl
games.

“No, I’m good,” he said. “Let everybody else debate that.”

Petersen also won the Bryant award in 2006, after the Broncos
completed another perfect season with a 43-42 win over Oklahoma
in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos are 49-4 under Petersen,
including a 31-1 record in the Western Athletic Conference.

Boise State has only played Division I football since 1996, and
Petersen wants the Broncos to be a model for smaller programs
fighting for respect among the established powerhouses.

“College football is changing, the landscape,” Petersen said.
“There are a lot of programs out there that say, ‘Hey, if Boise
can do it, we can do it.’ And it’s probably true. It’s good for
college athletics and for football. We’re proud to be a part of
it.”

The other finalists this year included Texas coach Mack Brown,
Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson, Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh, Oregon’s
Chip Kelly and Houston’s Kevin Sumlin.

The award is given by the National Sportscasters and
Sportswriters Association, and Thursday’s awards banquet in
Houston was organized by the American Heart Association.

The Broncos finished fourth in the final Associated Press Top 25
poll and will lose only four seniors from their roster next
season. Petersen, also named the WAC Coach of the Year, doesn’t
think his players will be fazed by higher-than-ever
expectations.

“I know we’re going to be ranked high,” he said. "Where that is,
I don’t know, it doesn’t really matter. Preseason rankings don’t
mean a lot to me and hopefully they won’t mean a lot to the kids
in our program.

“We can’t let that derail us. We need that to drive us, and I
think we’re a pretty driven program already.”

The national championship would seem to be the only
accomplishment remaining for the Broncos, but Petersen shied
away from making any bold predictions for the 2010 season.

“Those things, you just don’t know,” he said. “Our whole focus
is play as hard as we can, to play the schedule that we have and
hopefully, year after year, make a little bit of progress.”

Former Georgia coach Vince Dooley received the Lifetime
Achievement Award from the association on Thursday.

Dooley, 77, guided the Bulldogs to a 201-77-10 record, six
Southeastern Conference championships and one national title
(1980) in 25 seasons. He served as Georgia’s athletics director
from 1979-2004 and was inducted into the College Football Hall
of Fame in 1994.

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