At the beginning of the reception at 42, the Clinton Presidential Center restaurant, on Monday, the eve of the Broyles Award ceremony, award creator David Bazzel thanked Tom and Marge Schueck and Kevin and Sharon Lamb.
Their support, and that of many others, including Frank and Gen Broyles, who were in attendance, has made the award something that warrants a reception dinner that all five finalists attend.
The award honors the best assistant coach in college football. Over grilled beef tenderloin with lump crab meat and roasted Brussels sprouts, all five finalists and last year’s winner took turns speaking.
The 2012 recipient, Bob Diaco of the University of Notre Dame, wore the khaki-colored Frank Broyles insignia sports coat all winners receive. “There are all kinds of special pockets in here … I wish there was a better defensive game plan in one of them,” he said.
But one feature “that the wives will like,” he said, is an inside pocket lined with plastic, which is perfect for something assistants are never without - pens.
This year’s college football national championship game between Florida State University and Auburn University will be the first in the 18 years of the Broyles Award to feature two past finalists and two current ones. Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher was a finalist in 2001 as an offensive coordinator, and this year, his defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was in the running. Gus Malzahn won the trophy in 2010 as an offensive coordinator for Auburn, and this year, his offensive coordinator at Auburn, Rhett Lashlee, was a finalist.
Bazzel said that about 40 percent of the award finalists have gone on to be a head coach somewhere. “It is so hard to be here. There’s thousands of coaches each year that could be nominated for this award - it’s such rare air to be one of the five finalists.”
The most stirring sentiment of the night was delivered by Duke University offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who shared this: “What an awesome experience.
I’m really humbled to be here. Really, for me, it starts with Frank Broyles.
He doesn’t know this, but … my grandmother was a fourth-grade teacher, my grandfather worked in a factory his whole life, and you came to Sherman, Texas, and recruited my dad [Bobby Roper]. And when my dad, when he went to play for you, he knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to be a football coach, and [when he finished playing] you called Coach Bryant, and you got him a [graduate assistant] spot at Alabama.
And that’s really where it started. My first memory, as a kid, all I wanted to do is be like my dad, Coach. And he was a coach, and that’s what I wanted to be.”