Boise State University football coach Chris Petersen won the Paul "Bear'' Bryant Award as the 2006 National Coach of the Year on Thursday night.
Petersen was in Houston to accept the award, the first individual national award won by a member of a BSU football team at the NCAA Division I-A level.
He said he was shocked to beat a group of finalists that included Bret Bielema of Wisconsin, Lloyd Carr of Michigan, Greg Schiano of Rutgers and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.
"I didn't know what to say when I went back up there. It's awesome for our program,'' Petersen said. "I always think of this in football — there's no individual awards, and certainly not this one. This goes straight to the assistant coaches and to our players.''
Voting is done by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
"Chris Petersen possesses a strength and drive that motivates teams to win,'' NSSA president Mike Donoghue said. "Boise State has in Petersen what all universities want, a creative leader with dedication and heart, who lays it all on the line, every game. Like coach Bryant, Petersen inspires his team to give 100 percent on and off the field.''
The "Bear" Bryant Award — named after the former Alabama coach — has been a college football tradition since 1957. The 2005 winner was Mack Brown, who led Texas to the national championship.
Petersen, in his first season, led the Broncos to a 13-0 season and a 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos finished the season ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Petersen was the AFCA Region 4 Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award.