HOUSTON -- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy won the Paul "Bear" Bryant College Coach of the Year Award on Thursday night.

Gundy, whose Cowboys finished 12-1, beat out eight other finalists for the award, including LSU's Les Miles.

Oklahoma State won its first Big 12 championship and played in its first BCS bowl, getting a 41-38 overtime win against Stanford. The team's 12 wins were a school record.

"It's been an unbelievable season," he said. "I don't know that Oklahoma State's ever been perceived the way we are now from coast to coast all through the country. I'm so proud of our team and the administration and coaches for getting to this level and continuing to work hard."

OKLAHOMA STATE UNDER GUNDY IN 2011
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Gundy's team was kept out of the national title game after a 37-31 loss to Iowa State in two overtimes. He's been vocal about his desire for a change in the current system and spent time before the ceremony discussing what he believes would be a better way to determine the national champion.

Gundy thinks there should be a two-game playoff for the top four teams with No. 1 playing No. 4 and No. 2 and No. 3 facing off before the winners meet for the title.

"That would give everybody a chance to compete for the national championship," Gundy said.

Still, he doesn't expect change to come soon.

"There's too many people pulling different directions," he said. "It's hard to get people in a room and say: 'Listen what are we going to do?' You have too many voices. So I don't know that I see anything moving in that direction."

Other finalists for the award were Wisconsin's Bret Bielema, Art Briles of Baylor, Michigan's Brady Hoke, Stanford's David Shaw, Kansas State's Bill Snyder, former Houston and current Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and Clemson's Dabo Swinney.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose team beat LSU for the national title, was among the original finalists announced Dec. 14, but he was removed from contention because a scheduling conflict left him unable to attend.

Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry was the ceremony's other honoree, receiving the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award given by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

Fry, who also coached at North Texas and SMU, retired in 1998 with 232 career wins and his teams at Iowa made 14 bowl appearances.

He was humbled to be given an award bearing Bryant's name.

"I can't think of anyone I'd rather be associated with than coach Bryant," he said. "We were very close friends. He told me a lot of things that helped me win football games throughout my career."

Though most known for his 20-year career at Iowa, Fry said he was most proud of his work at SMU where he was responsible for signing Jerry LeVias, the first black player in the Southwest Conference, in 1966.

"The greatest thing I did was give a scholarship to the first African-American in the south," Fry said. "It opened the door for all the other fine, black athletes to at least have a choice of where to go to school."

LeVias attended the event to present the award to Fry.

"For coach Fry to be named the recipient of this Bear Bryant achievement award is fantastic and for me to be able to give it to him I think is a dream come true," LeVias said.

The awards were given in conjunction with the American Heart Association.