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Mark Stoops makes Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Watch List

A very big honor for Mark Stoops, who has taken Kentucky Football to new heights.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The turnaround Kentucky has seen under Mark Stoops has been one of the best in college football.

After back-to-back 2-10 seasons, Stoops has slowly carried this program to new heights over the last five years, especially this year now that Kentucky is in the top-25 polls and contending for a spot in the SEC Championship.

Neither of those things seemed possible when the season began, so Stoops deserves a lot of credit for taking Kentucky Football to a level it’s not seen in over a decade.

It also has Stoops in the running for Coach of the Year honors from various publications and organizations, the latest being the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards Watch List.

On Wednesday, the list of 20 coaches in the running for the award was released, and Stoops made the initial cut:

  • Bill Clark, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Mario Cristobal, University of Oregon
  • Dave Doeren, North Carolina State University
  • Luke Fickell, University of Cincinnati
  • Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M University
  • Jim Harbaugh, University of Michigan
  • Tom Herman, The University of Texas
  • Josh Heupel, University of Central Florida
  • Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia University
  • Brian Kelly, University of Notre Dame
  • Seth Littrell, University of North Texas
  • Mike MacIntyre, University of Colorado
  • Dan Mullen, University of Florida
  • Ed Orgeron, Louisiana State University
  • Lincoln Riley, University of Oklahoma
  • Nick Saban, The University of Alabama
  • Kirby Smart, The University of Georgia
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson University
  • Mark Stoops, University of Kentucky
  • Charlie Strong, University of South Florida

The winner will be announced live on Jan. 9, 2019 during the awards dinner and ceremony at the Post Oak Hotel in Houston.

This is the only college coaching honor selected after all bowl games are concluded and is voted on by the National Sports Media Association.