I am enjoying a book by Allen Barra about Paul "Bear" Bryant The Last Coach. Bear was bigger then life and his story is enjoyable to read as well as inspiring. Here are few excepts from the book which I am still reading:
- Alabama coach Wallace Wade was a legend himself. In the Rosebowl of 1925 Wade's team was behind at the start of the third quarter 12-0. Wade said to the gathered team in a big, booming voice "They told me boys from the South would fight" and walked away. The players reacted by winning the game 20-19. Who says a motivating message has to be a long speech?
- Football great George Blanda played for Bryant at Kentucky. He said when he first saw coach Bryant he thought "This must be what God looks like." Blanda recalled him as "a very handsome man, tall and smooth. He was the most energetic man I'd ever seen. He'd walk into the room and you wanted to stand up and applaud. He gives this speech to the student body and I thought he was going to get elected president."
- In a game between Bryant's Kentucky team against LSU Bryant put his arm around his quarterback Babe Parilli and told him "Bigness is in the heart, Babe. You get out there and throw and throw until I tell you to stop." They won 14-0.
- "More then Red Blaik and Army, General Neyland and Tennessee, more even then Frank Leahy and Notre Dame, Bud Wilkinson and Oklahoma were the dominant forces in college football after World War And symbolized the enormous boom in popularity the game was enjoying. By the end of the 1950 season, the Sooners had been unbeaten for three consecutive seasons and now had a winning streak of thirty-one straight games."
- It was at Texas A & M the tradition of the "twelfth man" began. A player, King Gill, had left the football team a couple of weeks before a game against a Kentucky team to concentrate on basketball. When Texas fell behind he asked Gill sitting in the stands to suit up, who said he was ready. The team held blankets around Gill while he got into his uniform to enter the game.
- Texas A & M alumni, Aggies" where described by their fellow Texans as "invincible in defeat, insufferable in victory."
- Bryant agreed to a debate with a professor at Texas A & M on the subject "Is College Football Overemphasized?" Bryant's best line was when he asked: "Sir, how many people watch you give a final exam?" When the professor said about fifty, Bryant replied "Well, I have 50,000 watch me when I give mine every Saturday."
- In a 1957 game by the Aggies against Arkansas, Roddy Osborne, the quarterback was supposed to run the clock down with a 7 – 6 in their favor. Instead, he threw a pass which was intercepted by one the fastest men on the Arkansas team. Osborne was a slow runner, but as the other player streaked down the field, Osborne chased him, caught up to him and tackled him on the twenty yard line. The Aggies won. Later someone asked Bryant how in the world Osborne could have caught up with the player and Bryant said "The difference was that Moody was running for a touchdown, but Osborne was running for his life!"
- Bryant had a tough time recruiting players to Texas A & M because of their long history of losing. An assistant coach called him about one promising player who had not yet signed with a college and Bryant said "Then sign him." The coach said "Well, coach, there is one thing. He's only got one arm." "Damn" Bryant said "the pickings are slim." The player, Murray Tremble became the first and only one armed All Southeast Conference guard.
If you like sports, you'd like this book. Bear Bryant was one of those bigger then life people who are so rare and unique.