Broyles Award names 5 finalists

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday November 30, 2015

The Rotary Club of Little Rock has announced its five finalists for the Broyles Award for the assistant coach of the year, and it includes two former winners.

Tom Herman won the award last season as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator. Since the award’s inception in 1996, more than 20 percent of finalists have become head coaches, including five of the past seven winners (Kevin Wilson, Gus Malzahn, Bob Diaco, Pat Narduzzi and Herman). This year's honor will be awarded on Dec. 8 at the Marriott Hotel.

Here are the finalists:

Kirby Smart (Alabama defensive coordinator / linebackers coach)

The 2009 winner of the award, Smart’s Alabama defense is No. 3 in scoring defense this year (14.3 points per game). The Tide are ranked No. 2 in the country and led by a ferocious front seven giving up just 2.4 yards per rush. Nick Saban said Monday that it’s Smart’s defense and Saban is just a graduate assistant. That’s high praise.

Kendal Briles (Baylor offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach)

In his first year as coordinator and play-caller, the Bears are scoring 50 points per game, despite being down to backup quarterbacks due to injuries. In addition, Baylor has more from its running game this season, which is No. 7 nationally at 5.6 yards per rush.

Brent Venables (Clemson defensive coordinator / linebackers coach)

Clemson is ranked No. 1 in the country, despite replacing the entire starting defensive line and returning only four defensive starters. The Tigers are allowing just 4.5 yards per play, which is No. 10 nationally. Clemson is also averaging 8.6 tackles for loss per game (No. 3) and allowing 3.6 yards per rush.

Gene Chizik (North Carolina defensive coordinator)

The 2004 winner, Chizik has engineered the nation’s biggest improvement in scoring defense in his first season in Chapel Hill. The Heels are allowing 20.8 points per game, which is nearly a 19-point improvement from a year ago. The 11-1 Heels will play for the ACC Championship.

Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach)

Another coach in his first year, the Sooners are ranked No. 3 behind Riley’s explosive offense, which is scoring 45.8 points per game (No. 3). Quarterback Baker Mayfield is a Heisman candidate, with 35 touchdowns to five interceptions. The Sooners are going to the College Football Playoff, and any opponent will have its hands full going against Riley.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to