🏈 Lance Leipold Named to Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Watch List

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head coach Lance Leipold is one of 26 college football coaches on the American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Watch List, the organization announced Tuesday.

The Paul “Bear” Bryant Award is presented each January to a college football coach for contributions that make the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity and a winning approach to coaching and life – both on and off the field. Leipold was also named to the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Watch List during the 2022 season.

Leipold, now in his third year at Kansas, has guided the Jayhawks to a 5-2 start to the 2023 season, which includes two appearances in the Associated Press Top-25 poll and USA Today Coaches Poll. Kansas began the season 4-0 in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1914-15. Kansas is also undefeated at home this season at 4-0 and has won eight of its last 10 home games since the start of the 2022 season.

Leipold has Kansas ranked in the top-20 in several statistical categories, including a Big 12 leading third-down conversion rate (53.4%), fewest penalties per game (4.14) and defensive touchdowns (2). The Jayhawks also rank 13th nationally in rushing offense led by the running back duo Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw Jr., who have combined for 1,096 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns this season.

Leipold is one of 26 coaches on the watch list, including Jeff Brohm (Louisville), Mack Brown (North Carolina), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Jamey Chadwell (Liberty), Curt Cignetti (James Madison), Ryan Day (Ohio State), Kalen Deboer (Washington), Mike Elko (Duke), Eliah Drinkwitz (Missouri), James Franklin (Penn State), Willie Fritz (Tulane), Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Lane Kiffin (Ole Miss), G.J. Kinne (Texas State), Dan Lanning (Oregon), Mike Locksley (Maryland), Mike Norvell (Florida State), Lincoln Riley (USC), Nick Saban (Alabama), Deion Sanders (Colorado), Steve Sarkisian (Texas), Kirby Smart (Georgia), Jonathan Smith (Oregon State), Mark Stoops (Kentucky) and Brent Venables (Oklahoma).

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 watch list, 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.

In addition to the Coach of the Year, 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).