Sports: “Bear” Bryant

A national championship will get you a ride on the shoulders, but you may lose your hat. Photo by Jerry Lodriguss, The Times Picayune.

A national championship will get you a ride on the shoulders, but you may lose your hat. Photo by Jerry Lodriguss, The Times Picayune.

Paul “Bear” Bryant was born in Arkansas, and coached at Maryland, Kentucky, and Texas A&M. But just look at the man. Has there ever been a face that says “Alabama” more than this one?

At retirement, Bryant had the most wins of any coach in college football history. During his 25 years as head coach of the Crimson Tide, he won six national championships and 13 SEC conference titles. He was national coach of the year three times, and the trophy is now the “Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant Award”.

With the famous houndstooth hat. Uploaded by nndb.com.

With the famous houndstooth hat. Uploaded by nndb.com.

One of the startling things about Bryant’s career is the number of his players who became successful head coaches themselves. They include Bill Battle (Tennessee), Mike DuBose (Alabama), Danny Ford (Clemson), Ray Perkins (NY Giants), Mike Reilly (Oregon State), Jackie Sherrill (Pittsburgh, Texas A&M), Steve Sloan (Duke, Ole Miss), Jack Pardee (Chicago Bears, Washington Redskins), Gene Stallings (Alabama), Jerry Claiborne (Virginia Tech, Maryland), Charlie McClendon (LSU), and Howard Schnellenberger (Miami, Louisville).

Bryant had that country wisdom that makes sense across all walks of life. He said, “It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” And, “If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”

All I can say is, Put me in, coach!

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