Rice head football coach David Bailiff is one of five coaches named as finalists for the Marathon Oil Corp.’s 2013 Paul “Bear” Bryant Award for Coach of the Year.
Other finalists for the award, which recognizes excellence in coaching on and off the field, are Art Briles (Baylor University), Mark Dantonio (Michigan State), Gus Malzahn (Auburn) and David Shaw (Stanford). The winner will be announced at a dinner benefiting the American Heart Association, which will be held Jan. 15 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Houston.
Bailiff earned his second C-USA Coach of the Year honor while leading the Owls to their first outright conference championship in 56 years and has the Owls in consecutive bowl games for only the second time in school history. Rice won the Conference USA West Division with a 7-1 record, rebounding from a loss on Halloween at the University of North Texas to win their last three games. The Owls then captured the conference crown with a 41-24 victory over Marshall in the C-USA title game Dec. 7 at Rice Stadium.
During his seven years as the Owls head coach, Bailiff has led Rice to three bowl games, including the first back-to-back postseason appearances since 1960-61. The Owls won the 2008 Texas Bowl and the 2012 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
Rice owns the top rushing offense in Conference USA, averaging 240.9 yards per game, and has the second-ranked unit in total defense, surrendering 352.6 yards per outing. The Owls are fourth in C-USA in scoring defense at 22.9 points per game, down 7.1 points from last season. In going 6-0 at home this season, Rice allowed an average of 14.3 points per game (86 total).
Under Bailiff’s direction, the Owls placed a league-high 10 players on the C-USA All-Conference team, including five first team and five second team selections. The 10 All-Conference members were the most by Rice since producing 12 in the Southwest Conference in 1993.
In addition to the accomplishments on the field this season, Rice’s football program was honored along with Tulane, Stanford and Georgia as the winners of the 2013 AFCA Academic Achievement Award, which honors schools with a 100 percent graduation rate. This is the second time in the last four years that Rice has shared the award. (Rice shared the award with Northwestern University in 2010.)
The Owls will play Mississippi State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at 3 p.m. Dec. 31. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Rice News will be posting daily stories, videos and pictures of the Owls’ adventures in Memphis and game preparations on its Liberty Bowl Central page. A list of alumni watch parties across the country can be found here. If you tweet about the Owls during bowl week, please use the hash tag #RiceFight.
For more information on the Bryant Awards, or to purchase tickets or a table for the event, visit www.bryantawards.com or call 713-610-5000.