Broyles Award names 5 finalists for 2016

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday November 28, 2016

The Broyles Award has named its five finalists for the nation’s top assistant coach.

Last week, 40 nominees were named. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 6 at the Little Rock Marriott. The five finalists will each be there and give speeches.

The finalists are:

Jeremy Pruitt - Alabama defensive coordinator

This may be the best defense Alabama’s ever had under Nick Saban. The Tide didn’t allow a touchdown in the entire month of November. Through 12 games, this defense has allowed 12 touchdowns and scored nine of its own. The Tide are No. 1 in scoring defense (11.4 ppg) and rushing defense (2.2 yards per carry). They’re also No. 2 in red zone touchdown defense (33.3%) and No. 6 on 3rd downs and in sacks per game. Opponents have only reached the red zone 18 times, which is six fewer than the next-closest team. Pruitt was also a finalist in 2013 as Florida State's defensive coordinator. Alabama plays for the SEC title on Saturday. 

Brent Venables - Clemson defensive coordinator

Venables was a finalist for the award last year as well. This season, Clemson has held 7 of 12 opponents to fewer than 14 points, including two shutouts. The Tigers are No. 8 in scoring D (17 ppg) and No. 2 with 8.6 tackles for loss per game. Clemson has won at least 11 games in four of the last five years and had done it twice previously in school history. They will play for a second straight ACC title on Saturday. 

Jim Leavitt - Colorado defensive coordinator

The Buffs will play for the Pac-12 title, in large part thanks to Leavitt’s defense. The Colorado defense is No. 13 in scoring (18.8 ppg), all the way up from No. 70 a year ago, and allowing 10 fewer points per game. The Buffs allowed fewer than 17 points in six of 12 games this season. CU is also top-8 in takeaways and 3rd down defense.

Don Brown - Michigan defensive coordinator

Brown’s aggressive defense is among the nation’s best in several key stats, including No. 1 on 3rd downs (20.8 percent) and in tackles for loss (9.5 per game), No. 2 in scoring D (12.5 ppg) and No. 5 in rushing D (3.1 ypc) The Wolverines have shut out opponents in the first half of six of 12 games this season. Michigan has wins over current top-10 teams Penn State, Wisconsin and Colorado. 

Matt Canada - Pitt offensive coordinator

Pitt has scored 508 points through 12 games, which is the most in school history. The Panthers are No. 10 in scoring (42.3 ppg), which is an increase of more than 14 points from a year ago, and would be the second-highest average in school history. Pitt has also scored at least 28 points in 13 straight games, the longest active streak among Power 5 teams. The Panthers rank No. 1 nationally in red zone touchdown scoring percentage at 82.6 percent, which would be the best number since Ohio State in 2013. Last week, Pitt scored 76 points against Syracuse and averaged more than 10 yards per play. They also beat top-10 teams Penn State and Clemson, the latter on the road. Quarterback Nathan Peterman leads the ACC in passing efficiency and threw for 26 TD / 6 INT.  The Panthers allowed the fewest sacks (9) in the entire Power 5.

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