Bear Bryant

Bear Bryant

Overview
Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913 January 26, 1983) was an American college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 player and coach. He was best known as the longtime head coach of the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

 football team
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama's head coach
Head coach
A head coach, senior coach or manager is a professional at training and developing athletes. They typically hold a more public profile and are paid more than other coaches...

, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history with 323 wins, a record broken by John Gagliardi
John Gagliardi
John Gagliardi is an American football coach. He is currently the head football coach at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a position he has held since 1953. From 1949 to 1952, he was the head football coach at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. With a career record of...

 in 1996.
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Quotations

I don't guess anybody would think much of what Joe did nowadays, including myself. But he was supposed to be a leader, so he had to live by the rules. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, and it was to the greatest athlete I ever coached.

Speaking about Joe Namath|Joe Namath, the star quarterback, being benched for an infraction before the 1963 final regular-season game against Miami and the Sugar Bowl.
Encyclopedia
Paul William "Bear" Bryant (September 11, 1913 January 26, 1983) was an American college football
College football
College football refers to American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities...

 player and coach. He was best known as the longtime head coach of the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

 football team
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. During his 25-year tenure as Alabama's head coach
Head coach
A head coach, senior coach or manager is a professional at training and developing athletes. They typically hold a more public profile and are paid more than other coaches...

, he amassed six national championships and thirteen conference championships. Upon his retirement in 1982, he held the record for most wins as head coach in collegiate football history with 323 wins, a record broken by John Gagliardi
John Gagliardi
John Gagliardi is an American football coach. He is currently the head football coach at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, a position he has held since 1953. From 1949 to 1952, he was the head football coach at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. With a career record of...

 in 1996. Bryant's mark has since also been surpassed by his longtime friend Joe Paterno
Joe Paterno
Joseph Vincent "Joe" Paterno is a former college football coach who was the head coach of the Penn State Nittany Lions for 46 years from 1966 through 2011. Paterno, nicknamed "JoePa," holds the record for the most victories by an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision football coach with...

, by Eddie Robinson, and by Bobby Bowden
Bobby Bowden
Robert Cleckler "Bobby" Bowden is a retired college football coach. He coached the Florida State Seminoles football team from the 1976 to 2009 seasons...

. At the University of Alabama, the Paul W. Bryant Museum
Paul W. Bryant Museum
The Paul W. Bryant Museum is located on the campus of the University of Alabama, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Founded in 1985, the museum was opened in 1988 to "house the history of Alabama football, with special emphasis on the legendary coach," Bear Bryant....

, Paul W. Bryant Hall, Paul W. Bryant Drive and Bryant–Denny Stadium are all named in his honor. He was also known for his trademark black and white houndstooth
Houndstooth
Houndstooth, houndstooth check or hound's tooth , also known as dogstooth, dogtooth or dog's tooth, is a duotone textile pattern characterized by broken checks or abstract four-pointed shapes, often in black and white, although other colours are used...

 or gingham
Gingham
Gingham is a medium-weight balanced plain-woven fabric made from dyed cotton or cotton-blend yarn.The name originates from an adjective in the Malay language, genggang , meaning striped. Some sources say that the name came into English via Dutch...

 hat, deep voice, casually leaning up against the goal post during pre-game warmups, and frequently holding his rolled-up game plan while on the sidelines.

Before arriving at Alabama, Bryant was head football coach at the University of Maryland
Maryland Terrapins football
The Maryland Terrapins football team represents the University of Maryland in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision competition. The Terrapins compete within the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

, the University of Kentucky
Kentucky Wildcats football
The Kentucky Wildcats football team is a college football program that competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and the East Division of the Southeastern Conference.-History:Paul "Bear" Bryant Era...

, and Texas A&M University
Texas A&M Aggies football
The Texas A&M Aggies football team represents Texas A&M University in college football. The Aggies have competed in the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996. They will join the Southeastern Conference in July 2012. Texas A&M football has earned one national title and 18...

.

Early life


Paul Bryant was the 11th of 12 children who were born to William Monroe and Ida Kilgore Bryant in Fordyce, Arkansas
Fordyce, Arkansas
Fordyce is a city in Dallas County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 4,799 at the 2000 census.The city is the county seat, home to the 1911 Dallas County Courthouse .-Geography:...

. His nickname stemmed from his having agreed to wrestle a captive bear during a theater promotion when he was 13 years old.

He attended Fordyce High School, where tall Bryant, who as an adult would eventually stand , began playing on the school's football team as an eighth grader. During his senior season, the team, with Bryant playing offensive line and defensive end, won the 1930 Arkansas state football championship.

College


Bryant accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Alabama
University of Alabama
The University of Alabama is a public coeducational university located in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States....

 in 1931. Since he elected to leave high school before completing his diploma, Bryant had to enroll in a Tuscaloosa
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Tuscaloosa is a city in and the seat of Tuscaloosa County in west central Alabama . Located on the Black Warrior River, it is the fifth-largest city in Alabama, with a population of 90,468 in 2010...

 high school to finish his education during the fall semester while he practiced with the college team. Bryant played end for the Crimson Tide and was a participant on the school's 1934 National Championship team. Bryant was the self-described "other end" during his playing years with the team, playing opposite the big star, Don Hutson
Don Hutson
Donald Montgomery Hutson was the first star wide receiver in National Football League history. He is considered by many to have been the first modern receiver....

, who later became an NFL
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 Hall-of-Famer
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

. Bryant himself was second team All-SEC in 1934, and was third team all conference in both 1933 and 1935. Bryant played with a partially-broken leg in a 1935 game against Tennessee
Tennessee Volunteers football
The Tennessee Volunteers football team are an American college football team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville . The NCAA Division I team is also a member of the Southeastern Conference ....

. Bryant pledged the Sigma Nu
Sigma Nu
Sigma Nu is an undergraduate, college fraternity with chapters in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Sigma Nu was founded in 1869 by three cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia...

 social fraternity, and as a senior, he married Mary Harmon.

Bryant was selected in the fourth round by the Brooklyn Dodgers
Brooklyn Dodgers (NFL)
The Brooklyn Dodgers were an American football team that played in the National Football League from 1930 to 1943, and in 1944 as the Brooklyn Tigers. The team played its home games at Ebbets Field. In 1945, because of financial difficulties, the team was merged with the Boston Yanks...

  in the 1936 NFL Draft
1936 NFL Draft
The 1936 National Football League Draft was the first draft of the National Football League. It took place on February 8, 1936 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and has taken place every year since. The draft was instituted in an effort to equalize strength amongst the...

, but never played professionally.

Assistant and North Carolina Pre-Flight


After graduating in 1936, Bryant took a coaching job at Union University
Union University
Union University is a private, evangelical Christian, liberal arts university located in Jackson, Tennessee, with additional campuses in Germantown, Tennessee, and Hendersonville, Tennessee...

 in Jackson, Tennessee
Jackson, Tennessee
Jackson is a city in Madison County, Tennessee, United States. The total population was 65,211 at the 2010 census. Jackson is the primary city of the Jackson, Tennessee metropolitan area, which is included in the Jackson-Humboldt, Tennessee Combined Statistical Area...

, but he left that position when offered an assistant coaching position under Frank Thomas at the University of Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

. Over the next four years, the team compiled a 29–5–3 record. In 1940, he left Alabama to become an assistant at Vanderbilt University
Vanderbilt Commodores football
The Vanderbilt Commodores football program is a college football team that represents Vanderbilt University. The team currently competes in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision as a member of the Southeastern Conference...

 under Henry Russell Sanders
Henry Russell Sanders
Henry Russell "Red" Sanders was an American college football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Vanderbilt University and the University of California at Los Angeles , compiling a career college football record of 102–41–3...

. After the 1941 season
1941 college football season
The 1941 college football regular season ended with the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota repeating as the AP Poll national champion. This was Minnesota's fifth national championship in eight years...

, Bryant was offered the head coaching job at the University of Arkansas
Arkansas Razorbacks football
The Arkansas Razorbacks football program is a college football team that represents the University of Arkansas. The team is a member of the Southeastern Conference's Western Division, which is in Division I's Football Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

. However, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, Bryant joined the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. He served off North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

, seeing no combat action. However, his ship, the civilian merchantman SS Uruguay was rammed by another ship and ordered to be abandoned. Bryant disobeyed the order, saving the lives of his men. Two hundred others died. He was later granted an honorable discharge to train recruits and coach the North Carolina Navy Pre-Flight
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States...

 football team
North Carolina Tar Heels football
The North Carolina Tar Heels football team represents the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in collegiate level football. In Carolina’s first 121 seasons of football competition, the Tar Heels have compiled a record of 646–488–54, a winning percentage of .566...

. One of the players he coached for the Navy was the future Pro Football Hall of Fame
Pro Football Hall of Fame
The Pro Football Hall of Fame is the hall of fame of professional football in the United States with an emphasis on the National Football League . It opened in Canton, Ohio, on September 7, 1963, with 17 charter inductees...

 quarterback Otto Graham
Otto Graham
Otto Everett Graham, Jr. was a professional American football and basketball player who played for the Cleveland Browns in both the All-America Football Conference and National Football League, as well as the Rochester Royals in the National Basketball League.-Early life:Born in Waukegan,...

. While in the Navy, Bryant attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

.

University of Maryland



In 1945, 32-year old Bryant met Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins are a professional American football team and members of the East Division of the National Football Conference in the National Football League . The team plays at FedExField in Landover, Maryland, while its headquarters and training facility are at Redskin Park in Ashburn,...

 owner George Marshall
George Preston Marshall
George Preston Marshall was the owner and president of the Washington Redskins of the National Football League from 1932 until his death in 1969.-Contributions:...

 at a cocktail party hosted by the Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

, and said he had turned down offers for assistant coaching positions at Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide football
|TeamName = Alabama football |Image = Alabama Crimson Tide Logo.svg |ImageSize = 110 |Helmet = Alabama Football.png |ImageSize2 = 150 |CurrentSeason = 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide football team...

 and Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team represents the Georgia Institute of Technology in collegiate level football. While the team is officially designated as the Yellow Jackets, it is also referred to as the Ramblin' Wreck. The Yellow Jackets are a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

. Bryant told Marshall that he was intent on becoming a head coach. Marshall put him in contact with Harry Clifton "Curley" Byrd
Curley Byrd
Harry Clifton "Curley" Byrd was an American university administrator, educator, athlete, coach, and politician...

, the president and former football coach of the University of Maryland
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is a top-ranked public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C...

.

After meeting with Byrd the next day, Bryant received the job as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins
Maryland Terrapins football
The Maryland Terrapins football team represents the University of Maryland in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Bowl Subdivision competition. The Terrapins compete within the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

. In his only season at Maryland, Bryant led the team to a 6–2–1 record. However, Bryant and Byrd came into conflict. In the most prominent incident, while Bryant was on vacation, Byrd reinstated a player who had been suspended by Bryant for a violation of team rules. After the 1945 season, Bryant left Maryland to take over as head coach at the University of Kentucky
University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky, also known as UK, is a public co-educational university and is one of the state's two land-grant universities, located in Lexington, Kentucky...

.

University of Kentucky


Bryant coached at the University of Kentucky
Kentucky Wildcats football
The Kentucky Wildcats football team is a college football program that competes in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision and the East Division of the Southeastern Conference.-History:Paul "Bear" Bryant Era...

 for eight seasons. Under Bryant, Kentucky made its first bowl appearance (1947
1947 Kentucky Wildcats football team
The 1947 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the 1947 college football season. The team scored 175 points while allowing 73 points...

) and won its first Southeastern Conference
Southeastern Conference
The Southeastern Conference is an American college athletic conference that operates in the southeastern part of the United States. It is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama...

 title (1950). The 1950 Kentucky team
1950 Kentucky Wildcats football team
The 1950 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the 1950 college football season. The offense scored 393 points while the defense allowed 69 points...

 concluded its season
1950 college football season
The 1950 college football season finished with the unbeaten and untied Oklahoma Sooners being the overwhelming choice for national champion. On New Year’s Day, the 9-0-0 Sooners were upset by the 10-1-0 Kentucky Wildcats in the Sugar Bowl. The #2 team, the United States Military Academy had been...

 with a victory over Bud Wilkinson
Bud Wilkinson
Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson was an American football player, coach, broadcaster, and politician. He served as the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1947 to 1963, compiling a record of 145–29–4. His Oklahoma Sooners won three national championships and 14...

's #1 ranked Oklahoma Sooners
1950 Oklahoma Sooners football team
The 1950 Oklahoma Sooners football team represented the University of Oklahoma in the college football season of 1950-1951.-Schedule:...

 in the Sugar Bowl
1951 Sugar Bowl
The 1951 Sugar Bowl was the 17th Sugar Bowl matchup, pitting the Big Seven champion Oklahoma Sooners against the Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky Wildcats . Oklahoma's regular season record was 10-0; Kentucky's was 10-1...

. The living players from the 1950 team were honored during halftime of a game during the 2005 season
2005 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 2005 NCAA Division I-A football season ended with the least amount of controversy surrounding the Bowl Championship Series title game in many years.To an extent it was a return to classic football...

. Bryant also led Kentucky to appearances in the Great Lakes Bowl
Great Lakes Bowl
The Great Lakes Bowl was a college football bowl game that was played only once, on December 6, 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio between the University of Kentucky and Villanova University....

, Orange Bowl, and Cotton Bowl Classic. Kentucky's final AP poll rankings under Bryant included #11 in 1949, #7 in 1950, #15 in 1951, #20 in 1952 and #16 in 1953. The 1950 season was Kentucky's highest rank until it finished #6 in the final 1977 AP poll.
His 1950 University of Kentucky team has actually been retroactively named co national champions by the NCAA for their defeat of then #1 ranked Oklahoma.

Texas A&M University


In 1954, Bryant accepted the head coaching job at Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University
Texas A&M University is a coeducational public research university located in College Station, Texas . It is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System. The sixth-largest university in the United States, A&M's enrollment for Fall 2011 was over 50,000 for the first time in school...

. He also served as athletic director
Athletic director
An athletic director is an administrator at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, who oversees the work of coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic programs...

 while at A&M.

The Aggies
Texas A&M Aggies football
The Texas A&M Aggies football team represents Texas A&M University in college football. The Aggies have competed in the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996. They will join the Southeastern Conference in July 2012. Texas A&M football has earned one national title and 18...

 suffered through a grueling 1-9 initial season
1954 college football season
The 1954 college football season saw three teams finish unbeaten and untied, with Ohio State Buckeyes and the UCLA Bruins sharing the national championship as the #1 picks of the AP Poll and the UPI Poll, respectively. Although the winners of the Big Ten and the Pacific conferences normally met in...

 which began with the infamous training camp in Junction, Texas
Junction, Texas
Junction is a city in and the county seat of Kimble County, Texas, United States. The population was 2,618 at the 2000 census.-Geography:...

. The “survivors” were given the name “Junction Boys
Junction Boys
The Junction Boys is the name given to the “survivors” of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s 10 day summer football camp in Junction, Texas beginning September 1, 1954...

.” Two years later, Bryant led the team to the Southwest Conference championship with a 34–21 victory over the University of Texas at Austin. The following year, 1957
1957 college football season
The 1957 college football season saw two different national champions. Auburn University was ranked first in the AP writers' poll taken at season's end, while Ohio State University was first in the UPI coaches' poll...

, Bryant's star back John David Crow
John David Crow
John David Crow was the Heisman Trophy winner and halfback from Texas A&M University in 1957...

 won the Heisman Trophy
Heisman Trophy
The Heisman Memorial Trophy Award , is awarded annually to the player deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football. It was created in 1935 as the Downtown Athletic Club trophy and renamed in 1936 following the death of the Club's athletic director, John Heisman The Heisman Memorial...

 (the only Bryant player to ever earn that award), and the Aggies
1957 Texas A&M Aggies football team
The 1957 Texas A&M Aggies football team represented Texas A&M University in the 1957 college football season. The Aggies offense scored 158 points while the defense allowed 50points. Led by head coach Bear Bryant, the Aggies competed in the Gator Bowl....

 were in title contention until they lost to the #20 Rice Owls
Rice Owls football
The Rice Owls football team represents Rice University in NCAA Division I college football. The Owls have competed in Conference USA's Western Division since 2005. Rice Stadium, built in 1950, hosts the Owls' home football games.-Venue:...

 in Houston
Rice Stadium
Rice Stadium is a football stadium located on the Rice University campus in Houston, Texas. It has been the home of the Rice University football team since its completion in 1950 and hosted Super Bowl VIII in 1974....

, amid rumors that Alabama would be going after Bryant.

Again, as at Kentucky, Bryant attempted to integrate the Texas A&M squad. "We'll be the last football team in the Southwest Conference to integrate," he was told by a Texas A&M official. "Well," Bryant replied, "then that's where we're going to finish in football."

At the close of the 1957 season, having compiled an overall 25–14–2 record at Texas A&M, Bryant returned to Tuscaloosa to take the head coaching position, succeeding J.B. "Ears" Whitworth
Jennings B. Whitworth
-Additional sources:* Stoddard, Tom, Turnaround, 1996, The Black Belt Press, ISBN 1-881320-70-7* Hooper, Matt "". Birmingham Weekly-External links:...

, as well as the athletic director job at Alabama.

University of Alabama



Bryant took over the Alabama football team in 1958
1958 college football season
The 1958 college football season was the first to feature the two point conversion. On January 13, 1958, the 11-man NCAA Rules Committee unanimously approved a resolution to allow teams to choose between kicking an extra point after a touchdown, or running or passing from the 3 yard line for 2...

. When asked why he came to Alabama, he replied "Momma called. And when Momma calls, you just have to come runnin'." After winning a combined four games in the three years prior to Bryant's arrival
Alabama Crimson Tide football, 1950–1959
The 1950s were the worst decade in the history of Alabama football. The Tide football program, a frequent contender in the Southeastern Conference and regular bowl participant, had five losing seasons in the decade after not having had a losing season since 1903. Alabama bottomed out with an 0–10...

, the Tide went 5–4–1 in Bryant's first season. The next year, in 1959
1959 college football season
The 1959 college football season saw Syracuse University crowned as the national champion by both the AP and the UPI wire services. Mississippi , which had outscored its opponents 350-21, finished #2 in both polls, and its only loss during the regular season had been to LSU, which ultimately...

, Alabama beat Auburn and appeared in a bowl game, the first time either had happened in the last six years. In 1961, under his leadership, with quarterback Pat Trammell
Pat Trammell
Patrick Lee Trammell was an All-American quarterback for the University of Alabama from 1958 until 1961. In his senior year, he led the Crimson Tide to a perfect season of 11-0-0 and Alabama subsequently won the NCAA National Championship for 1961. On December 10, 1968, he died from metastatic...

 and football greats Lee Roy Jordan
Lee Roy Jordan
Lee Roy Jordan is a retired American football linebacker. After attending the University of Alabama, playing under head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, he spent 14 years in the National Football League playing for the Dallas Cowboys between 1963–1976...

 and Billy Neighbors
Billy Neighbors
William Wesley "Billy" Neighbors is a former American football guard who played in the American Football League from . He played college football at the University of Alabama where he was an All-American, and was selected in sixth round of the 1962 AFL Draft...

, Alabama went 11–0 and defeated Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl
1959 Sugar Bowl
The 1959 edition to the Sugar Bowl featured the top ranked LSU Tigers, and the 12th ranked Clemson Tigers. This game was one of the classic Sugar Bowl games, as LSU won its first ever national championship....

 to claim the national championship.

The next three years (1962–64) featured Joe Namath
Joe Namath
Joseph William "Joe" Namath , nicknamed "Broadway Joe" or "Joe Willie", is a former American football quarterback. He played college football for the University of Alabama under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant and his assistant, Howard Schnellenberger, from 1962–1964, and professional football in the...

 at quarterback and were among Bryant's finest. The 1962
1962 college football season
During the 20th Century, the NCAA had no playoff for the college football teams that would later be described as "Division I-A". The NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of "wire service" polls. The extent of that recognition came in the form of acknowledgment in...

 season ended with a victory in the Orange Bowl over Bud Wilkinson
Bud Wilkinson
Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson was an American football player, coach, broadcaster, and politician. He served as the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma from 1947 to 1963, compiling a record of 145–29–4. His Oklahoma Sooners won three national championships and 14...

's University of Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma Sooners football
The Oklahoma Sooners football program is a college football team that represents the University of Oklahoma . The team is currently a member of the Big 12 Conference, which is a Division I Bowl Subdivision of the National Collegiate Athletic Association...

. The following year ended with a victory in the 1963 Sugar Bowl
1963 Sugar Bowl
The 1963 edition to the Sugar Bowl featured the 3rd ranked Ole Miss Rebels, and the 6th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. Behind a solid win, Ole Miss locked up its second national championship in three years.-Game summary:...

. In 1964, the Tide won another national championship, but lost to the University of Texas in the Orange Bowl, in the first nationally televised college game in color. The Crimson Tide would repeat as champions in 1965
1965 college football season
During the 20th Century, the NCAA had no playoff for the college football teams that would later be described as "Division I-A". The NCAA did recognize a national champion based upon the final results of "wire service" polls. The "writers' poll" by Associated Press was the most popular,...

 after defeating Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Coming off back-to-back national championship seasons, Bryant's Alabama team went undefeated in 1966
1966 college football season
The 1966 college football season was marked by controversy as the year of "The Tie", a November 19 game between the two top-ranked teams, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Neither team participated in a post-season bowl game. At the same time, 1966 was the first year that the professional football...

, and defeated a strong Nebraska team 34–7 in the Sugar Bowl
1966 Orange Bowl
The 1966 Orange Bowl of the Orange Bowl featured the third ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers and the fourth ranked Alabama Crimson Tide.Alabama scored first on a 32 yard touchdown pass from Steve Sloan to Ray Perkins as Alabama took a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Nebraska's Bob Churchich threw a 33...

. However, Alabama finished third in the nation behind co-national champions Michigan State
1966 Michigan State Spartans football team
The 1966 Michigan State Spartans football team represented Michigan State University in the 1966 college football season.-Regular season:The 1966 Michigan State Spartans football vs. Notre Dame football game remains one of the greatest, and most controversial, games in college football history...

 and Notre Dame
1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team
The 1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame during the 1966 college football season. The Irish, coached by Ara Parseghian, ended the season undefeated with 9 wins and one tie, winning the national championship...

, who had previously played to a 10–10 tie in a late regular season game.

The 1967 team was billed as another national championship contender with star quarterback Kenny Stabler returning, but the team stumbled out of the gate and tied Florida State 37–37 at Legion Field
Legion Field
Legion Field is a large stadium in Birmingham, Alabama, United States, primarily designed to be used as a venue for American football, but is occasionally used for other large outdoor events. The stadium is named in honor of the American Legion, a U.S. organization of military veterans. At its peak...

. The season never took off from there, with the Bryant-led Alabama team finishing 8–2–1, losing in the Cotton Bowl Classic to Texas A&M
Texas A&M Aggies football
The Texas A&M Aggies football team represents Texas A&M University in college football. The Aggies have competed in the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996. They will join the Southeastern Conference in July 2012. Texas A&M football has earned one national title and 18...

, coached by former Bryant player and assistant coach Gene Stallings
Gene Stallings
Eugene Clifton Stallings, Jr. is a former American football player and coach. He played college football at Texas A&M University , where he was one of the "Junction Boys", and later served as the head coach at his alma mater from 1965 to 1971. Stallings was also the head coach of the St...

. In 1968
1968 college football season
In the 1968 college football season, the system of "polls and bowls" changed. The Associated Press returned to its pre-1961 system of ranking the Top 20 rather than the Top 10, and voted on the national champion after the bowl games, rather than before. During the 20th Century, the NCAA had no...

, Bryant again could not match his previous successes, as the team went 8–3, losing to the University of Missouri
Missouri Tigers football
The Missouri Tigers football team represents the University of Missouri in NCAA Division I FBS college football. The team has competed in the North Division of the Big 12 Conference since the conference's inception in 1996...

 35–10 in the Gator Bowl. The 1969 and 1970 teams finished 6–5 and 6–5–1 respectively.

After these disappointing efforts, many began to wonder if the 57-year old Bryant was washed up. He himself began feeling the same way and considered either retiring from coaching or leaving college football for the NFL.

For years, Bryant was accused of racism for refusing to recruit black players, but he merely said that the prevailing social climate did not let him do this. He finally was able to convince the administration to allow him to do so after scheduling the Tide's 1970 season opener against a strong University of Southern California team led by African American fullback Sam Cunningham
Sam Cunningham
Samuel Lewis "Sam" Cunningham, Jr is a retired American football fullback. The media referred to him as Sam "Bam" Cunningham.-College career:...

. Cunningham rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns in a 42–21 victory against the overmatched Tide. After that season, Bryant was able to recruit Wilbur Jackson
Wilbur Jackson
Wilbur Jackson is a former American football running back for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. He was drafted in the first round of the 1974 NFL Draft out of University of Alabama by the 49ers. He played five seasons for San Francisco, and then three years with the...

 as Alabama's first African American scholarship player, and junior-college transfer John Mitchell became the first black man to play for Alabama. By 1973, one-third of the team's starters were African American.

In 1971, Bryant began engineering a comeback to prove that he still had it. This included abandoning Alabama's old power offense for the newly-fashionable wishbone formation. The change helped make the remainder of the decade a successful one for the Crimson Tide. That season, Alabama went undefeated and earned a #2 ranking, but lost to #1 Nebraska
1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team
The 1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers football team represented the University of Nebraska in the 1971 college football season. Nebraska was coached by Bob Devaney and played their home games in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln...

, 38–6 in the Orange Bowl
1972 Orange Bowl
The 1972 Orange Bowl was played on January 1, 1972, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. In the final game of the 1971 college football season, top-ranked and defending national champion Nebraska soundly defeated the #2 Alabama Crimson Tide, 38–6....

. The team would go on to split national championships in 1973 (Notre Dame
1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team
The 1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame during the 1973 college football season. The Irish, coached by Ara Parseghian, ended the season undefeated with 11 wins and no losses, winning the national championship...

 defeated Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl, which led the UPI to stop giving national championships until after all the games for the season had been played - including bowl games) and 1978
1978 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season was the first season of Division I-A football; Division I-A was created in 1978 from the splitting of Division I for football only. The season came down to a rare #1 vs. #2 post-season meeting as #1 Penn State and #2 Alabama met in the New Year's Day Sugar...

 (despite losing a regular season matchup against co-national champion USC
1978 USC Trojans football team
The 1978 USC Trojans football team represented the University of Southern California in the 1978 NCAA Division I-A football season. Following the season, the Trojans were crowned national champions according to the Coaches Poll...

) and win it outright in 1979
1979 NCAA Division I-A football season
The 1979 NCAA Division I-A football season saw the Alabama Crimson Tide bring home a national title with a perfect 12-0 season. The title was Alabama's 11th claimed, though the number is disputed. It was their 6th Associated Press awarded title....

.

Bryant coached at Alabama for 25 years, winning six national titles (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, and 1979) and thirteen SEC championships. Bryant's win over in-state rival Auburn University
Auburn Tigers football
Only Mohamed Amin Abughadir set the record with 1,890 yards in 1 season. He was the QB for Auburn in 1998.The Auburn Tigers football team represents Auburn University in college football as a member of the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, competing in the Western Division of the...

, coached by former Bryant assistant Pat Dye
Pat Dye
Patrick Fain Dye is a former American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at East Carolina University , the University of Wyoming , and Auburn University compiling a career college football record of 153–62–5...

 in November 1981 was Bryant's 315th as a head coach, which was the most of any head coach at that time. His all-time record as a coach was 323-85-17.

Retirement and death


After the 1982 season, Bryant, who had turned 69 that September, decided to retire, stating "This is my school, my alma mater. I love it and I love my players. But in my opinion, they deserved better coaching than they have been getting from me this year." His last regular season game was a 23–22 loss to Auburn
Auburn Tigers
Auburn Tigers is the name given to Auburn University athletic teams. The University is a member of the Southeastern Conference and competes in NCAA Division I, fielding 19 varsity teams in 13 sports:* Men's sports** Baseball** Basketball...

 and his last postseason game was a 21–15 victory in the Liberty Bowl
1982 Liberty Bowl
The 1982 Liberty Bowl was held on December 29, 1982, in Memphis, Tennessee at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The game featured the Illinois Fighting Illini, of the Big Ten Conference, and Alabama Crimson Tide, of the SEC. Alabama won the game 21–15....

 in Memphis, Tennessee
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is a football stadium, located at the Mid-South Fairgrounds, in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee, United States. The stadium is the site of the annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and is the home field of the University of Memphis Tigers football team...

 over the University of Illinois
Illinois Fighting Illini football
The Illinois Fighting Illini are a major college football program, representing the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. They compete in NCAA Division I-A and the Big Ten Conference.-Current staff:-All-time win/loss/tie record:*563-513-51...

. After the game, Bryant was asked what he planned to do now that he was retired. He replied "Probably croak in a week." His reply proved ominous.

Four weeks after making that comment, and just one day after passing a routine medical checkup, on January 25, 1983, Bryant checked into Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa after experiencing chest pain. A day later, when being prepared for an electrocardiogram, he died after suffering a massive heart attack
Myocardial infarction
Myocardial infarction or acute myocardial infarction , commonly known as a heart attack, results from the interruption of blood supply to a part of the heart, causing heart cells to die...

. First news of Bryant's death came from Bert Bank (WTBC Radio Tuscaloosa) and on the NBC Radio Network (anchored by Stan Martyn and reported by Stewart Stogel). On his hand at the time of his death was the only piece of jewelry he ever wore, a gold ring inscribed "The Junction Boys". He is interred at Birmingham's Elmwood Cemetery
Elmwood Cemetery (Birmingham, Alabama)
Elmwood Cemetery is a cemetery established in 1900 in Birmingham, Alabama northwest of Homewood by a group of fraternal organizations. It was renamed in 1906 and gradually eclipsed Oak Hill Cemetery as the most prominent burial place in the city...

. A month after his death, Bryant was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Ronald Reagan. A moment of silence was held prior to Super Bowl XVII
Super Bowl XVII
Super Bowl XVII was an American football game played on January 30, 1983 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to decide the National Football League champion following the strike-shortened 1982 regular season...

, played four days after Bryant's passing.

Defamation suit


In 1962, after Bryant denounced The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post
The Saturday Evening Post is a bimonthly American magazine. It was published weekly under this title from 1897 until 1969, and quarterly and then bimonthly from 1971.-History:...

for printing an article that charged him with encouraging his players to "engage in brutality" in a 1961 game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets football team represents the Georgia Institute of Technology in collegiate level football. While the team is officially designated as the Yellow Jackets, it is also referred to as the Ramblin' Wreck. The Yellow Jackets are a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference...

, the magazine claimed that Bryant and Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia Bulldogs football
The Georgia Bulldogs football team represents the University of Georgia in football. The Bulldogs are a member of the Southeastern Conference and are frequently a top-25 team. The University of Georgia has had a football team since 1892 and has an all-time record of 738–398–54...

 coach Wally Butts
Wally Butts
James Wallace "Wally" Butts, Jr. was an American football player and coach and college athletics administrator. He served as the head coach at the University of Georgia from 1939 to 1960, compiling a record of 140–86–9...

 had conspired to fix their 1962 game together in Alabama's favor. Butts, also on Bryant's behalf, sued Curtis Publishing Co. for defamation. The case went to the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

. As a result of Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts, 388 U.S. 130 , was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States established the standard of First Amendment protection against defamation claims brought by private individuals....

 388 U.S. 130 (1967), Curtis was ordered to pay $3,060,000 in damages
Damages
In law, damages is an award, typically of money, to be paid to a person as compensation for loss or injury; grammatically, it is a singular noun, not plural.- Compensatory damages :...

 to the plaintiff
Plaintiff
A plaintiff , also known as a claimant or complainant, is the term used in some jurisdictions for the party who initiates a lawsuit before a court...

.

Honors and awards

  • 12-time Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year
  • Three-time National Coach of the Year in 1961, 1971 and 1973. The national coach of the year award was subsequently named the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award in his honor.
  • Was named Head Coach of Sports Illustrated's
    Sports Illustrated
    Sports Illustrated is an American sports media company owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. Its self titled magazine has over 3.5 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the...

     NCAA Football All-Century Team.
  • He received 1.5 votes for the Democratic Party
    Democratic Party (United States)
    The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

     Presidential nomination at the extremely contentious 1968 Democratic Convention
  • In February 1983, Bryant was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom
    Presidential Medal of Freedom
    The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with thecomparable Congressional Gold Medal bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award in the United States...

     by President Ronald Reagan
    Ronald Reagan
    Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

    .
  • Bryant was honored with a U.S. postage stamp in 1996.
  • Country singer Roger Hallmark
    Roger Hallmark
    Roger Hallmark is an American country music singer from Cullman, Alabama; he actively recorded from the early 1970s until the early 1980s....

     recorded a tribute song in his honor.
  • Charles Ghigna
    Charles Ghigna
    Charles Ghigna is an American children's author, poet, speaker and nationally syndicated feature writer....

     wrote a poem that appeared in the Birmingham-Post Herald in 1983 as a tribute to Bryant.
  • Super Bowl XVII
    Super Bowl XVII
    Super Bowl XVII was an American football game played on January 30, 1983 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California to decide the National Football League champion following the strike-shortened 1982 regular season...

     was dedicated to Bryant. A moment of silence was held in his memory during the pregame ceremonies.

Legacy



Many of Bryant's former players and assistant coaches went on to become head coaches at the collegiate level and/or in the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

. Danny Ford
Danny Ford
Danny Lee Ford is a former American football player and coach. He played college football at the University of Alabama from 1967 to 1969. He served as the head football coach at Clemson University in South Carolina from 1978 to 1989 and at the University of Arkansas from 1993 to 1997, compiling...

, Howard Schnellenberger
Howard Schnellenberger
Howard Schnellenberger is an American football coach at both the professional and college level. He is currently in his final season as head coach of Florida Atlantic University, having announced his retirement on August 11, 2011, effective at the end of the 2011 season...

, and Gene Stallings
Gene Stallings
Eugene Clifton Stallings, Jr. is a former American football player and coach. He played college football at Texas A&M University , where he was one of the "Junction Boys", and later served as the head coach at his alma mater from 1965 to 1971. Stallings was also the head coach of the St...

 all won national championships as head coaches for NCAA
National Collegiate Athletic Association
The National Collegiate Athletic Association is a semi-voluntary association of 1,281 institutions, conferences, organizations and individuals that organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States...

 programs while Neil Callaway
Neil Callaway
-External links:**...

, Joey Jones, Mike Riley
Mike Riley
Michael Joseph "Mike" Riley is an American football coach, currently the head coach of the Oregon State Beavers of the Pacific-12 Conference...

, David Cutcliffe
David Cutcliffe
David Cutcliffe is the head football coach of the Duke University Blue Devils. He is best known for coaching Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee, and Manning's younger brother and fellow Super Bowl Champion Eli at the University of Mississippi...

, and Schnellenberger are active head coaches in the NCAA. Charles McClendon
Charles McClendon
Charles Youmans McClendon , also known as Charlie or "Cholly Mac," was an American football player and coach. He served at the head coach at Louisiana State University from 1962 to 1979. McClendon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.-Early years:McClendon was born on...

, Sylvester Croom
Sylvester Croom
Sylvester Croom, Jr. is the former football head coach at Mississippi State University and current running backs coach of the St. Louis Rams. He was the first African American head football coach in the Southeastern Conference...

, Jim Owens
Jim Owens
-External links:...

, Jackie Sherrill
Jackie Sherrill
Jackie Sherrill is a former American football player and coach. He served as the head coach at Washington State University , the University of Pittsburgh , Texas A&M University , and Mississippi State University , compiling a career college football record of 180–120–4...

, and Pat Dye
Pat Dye
Patrick Fain Dye is a former American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He served as the head football coach at East Carolina University , the University of Wyoming , and Auburn University compiling a career college football record of 153–62–5...

 were also notable NCAA head coaches. Ozzie Newsome
Ozzie Newsome
Ozzie Newsome Jr. and a 1974 graduate of Colbert County High School in Leighton, Alabama, is a former American football tight end for the Cleveland Browns, an inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the current General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens.-College career:Before his NFL career,...

 is active as the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens are a professional football franchise based in Baltimore, Maryland.The Baltimore Ravens are officially a quasi-expansion franchise, having originated in 1995 with the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy after Art Modell, then owner of the Cleveland Browns, announced his...

.

Head coaching record


In his 38 seasons as a head coach, Bryant had 37 winning seasons and participated in a total of 29 postseason bowl game
Bowl game
In North America, a bowl game is commonly considered to refer to one of a number of post-season college football games. Prior to 2002, bowl game statistics were not included in players' career totals and the games were mostly considered to be exhibition games involving a payout to participating...

s, including 24 consecutively at Alabama. He won 15 bowl games, including eight Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

s.


(*) Before the 1974, the final Coaches' Poll, also known then as the UPI Poll, was released before the bowl games, so a team that lost its bowl game could still claim the UPI national championship. This was changed as a result of Alabama claiming the 1973 Coaches' Poll national championship despite losing to Notre Dame
1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team
The 1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame during the 1973 college football season. The Irish, coached by Ara Parseghian, ended the season undefeated with 11 wins and no losses, winning the national championship...

 in the Sugar Bowl
Sugar Bowl
The Sugar Bowl is an annual American college football bowl game played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Sugar Bowl has been played annually since January 1, 1935, and celebrated its 75th anniversary on January 2, 2009...

.

See also



External links