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on the Ole Miss twenty yard line, and time \ was running out.

The Crimson Tide was behind 27-32 on a muggy Saturday night at Legion Field in 1969. Bama quarterback Scott Hunter and the Rebels' Archie Manning had just put on one of the
TWAS FOURTH-AND-LONG
greatest aerial displays in the history of college footbaIl-a combined 81 passes for a total of 736 yards. The score had seesawed all night, but with four minutes left in the game Hunter caIled a time-out and headed to the sidelines for advice. When the referee came over and said, "Time's up Alabama captain. The TV commercial is over;' Hunter still had no play.As he trotted back toward the line, however, he heard the growl of Coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant calling him: "Scott, Scott:' Without stopping, Hunter looked over his shoulder and received what he remembers forty-four years later as the smartest piece of advice he ever received: "Run the best thing you got!" Bryant hollered. In the huddle Hunter looked straight at wide receiver George Ranager and said, "Red right 56 comeback:' He and Ranager had practiced that play until they "could do it in the dark:' It was the best thing he had. Despite an Ole Miss blitz, Hunter faded and fired a perfect line drive into Ranager's waiting hands, and he spun away from the cornerback into the end zone, making the score Bama 33-Rebels 32. The comeback win bolstered the team's records and the fans' spirits, but it also held deep personal significance for the players involved, as it offered lessons that transcended the gridiron. "Whenever I've had tough times or have to make tough decisions, I run the best thing I've got;' says Hunter, now a prominent Mobile stockbroker. "It always seems to work out"

ALABAMA

HERITAGE:

SUMMER

2013

EAR BRYANT

COACHED

AT ALABAMA

One time Croyle, a star defensive end on Bryant's 1973 National Championship team, was in Bryant's office discussing how to help a young boy he had counseled at a summer camp for underprivileged children. The boy's mother was a prostitute, and the boy was both "her banker and her timer:' Croyle said. Bryant's phone had been ringing off the hook, but the coach-let his secretary answer it. At one point, Croyle said, she appeared at the door and said, "Coach, I've got Roone Arledge (the head of ABC Sports) on one line, and Bob Hope on the other. What do you want me to do?"

from 1958-1982, during which thousands of young men passed through his athletic department. He had a marked effect on all of them; for many-probably mostthe experience profoundly changed their lives. "He was more than just a football coach;' remembered All-American center Gaylon McCollough, "and sometimes he'd call team meetings where football was never mentioned. One time he called a meeting at five a.m. and said, 'I've just been thinking ..: and then delivered a lengthy lecture sity of picking yourself event befell you in later life. on the necesup after some bad 'You have to do what

"Say1will be with them directly;' Bryant replied, resuming the conversation with Croyle. "I was flabbergasted;' Croyle said. "I was a nineteen-yearold kid, and Bryant had two of the most famous people in America waiting on hold while he talked to me:' For thirty-nine years Croyle has run Big Oak Ranch, which maintains homes and schools for disadvantaged children, and he bases his own work on the lesson he learned that day from Coach Bryant: "No matter who 1am talking to, or how important it might seem, 1will always take a call from one of the lads and make myself available to them. They are what is important" Bryant kept the welfare of his players foremost in his mind, and not only when they were players. In 1973 he established the Paul W. Bryant Scholarship Fund to financially assist any children of his players who wanted to attend the University of Alabama. Approximately one thousand of them have taken advantage of the program, including the children ofIoe Namath, Kenny Stabler, Jeff Rutledge, Scott Hunter, Major Ogilvie,and others. Based on the amount of the scholarships awarded through the fund, Bryant has donated more to the university than the university paid him during his career. It wasn't only Bryant's own players that concerned him. During a 1974 Alabama game at Legion Field against Texas Christian University, TCU running back Kent Waldrep was paralyzed with a broken neck. When the game concluded,
ALABAMA HERITAGE: SUMMER 2013

you have to do: he told the startled players. 'You cannot feel sorry for yourselves; you cannot quit:" That, or some version of it, is the central theme that most of Bryant's former players took away from the experience of playing football for him. "I wanted to get the psychology department to give him an honorary PhD;' says McCollough, now a successful plastic surgeon in Gulf Shores. "He was a fabulous motivator:' What stood out about Bryant for John Croyle was his accessibility to the people who mattered to him the most-his players. His door was always open, for any subject.

(#12) huddles up the Crimson Tideduring the 1969Alabama-Ole Miss game. LEFT: Academic All-American center Gayton McCollough is now a highly regarded plastic surgeon.

OPPOSITE PAGE:Scott Hunter

Over several months he "would bring all kinds of guests:' said Waldrep, a former vice-chairman of the National Council on Disability during the Reagan administration. "One day he showed up with Charlie Finley, the owner of the World Series-winning Oaldand

Xs, and George Steinbrenner of the

New York Yankees:' When he couldn't come himself, he'd send encouraging notes, and he was always positive in front of Waldrep, though the boy's parents told him Bryant had tears in his eyes after leaving his room. Bryant kept the connection even after Waldrep was moved back to Texas, making the player an honorary member of the A Club. At Bryant's funeral Waldrep sat with the Bryant family. When it came time for Waldrep's sons to attend college, both were accepted at the University of Alabama on Bryant scholarships-courtesy of Athletic Director Mal Moore, who remembered that Bryant had told everyone around him to help Waldrep and his family whenever possibl~. ABOVE: Coach Bryant greets
RYANT'S FOCUS

on Waldrep's fa~ily

former TCU running back Kent Waldrep, paralyzed in a game against Alabama in 1974.
Bryant went immediately to the hospital to check on Waldrep-the only time in his career he did not return home with the team. The next day Bryant visited him in the hospital, and he came back the next day, and the next. These were not short pop-in visits; Bryant would stay half an hour or longer. "He would put his big hands on my chest and say,'Okay boy you've been laying around this hospital long enough. I know that the nurses are pretty, and the therapists are pretty, but you need to get back out on the football field:" Waldrep remembered Although Waldrep's injury meant he would never play football again, he recalls Bryant's words being the precise motivation he needed to taclde physical therapy. 10
ALABAMA HERITAGE: SUMMER 2013

reflected the significance of his deep family roots. Bryant grew up in Moro Bottom, Arkansas, which wasn't even a switch up the railroad tracks, just a collection of families who scratched out a living in the mean Arkansas dirt. The Bryants rode a mule wagon to the town of Fordyce once a week to sell truck vegetables. Bryant

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was so poor he didn't even know


he was poor until his first trip to Fordyce when other kids made fun of him. He was so self-conscious
LEFT:

Halfback "Scooter" Dyess remembers Bryant's speech before the 1959 Iron Bowl. The Tide wonthe game 10-0 to break afive-year losingstreak.

Bryant's mother would likely have been proud of his counsel to players. "Make your beds, write your mamas, _, and go to church on Sundays," he advised.
and abashed that he wouldn't eat out because he didn't know what all the utensils were for. His father had died young, but the lessons Bryant learned from his mother loomed large in his immense personality. In his autobiography, Bear, Bryant remembered that his mother, Ida Kilgore Bryant, whom he idolized, would have preferred him to become a preacher instead of a football coach, but he used to tell her that "coaching and preaching were a lot alike" And she would likelyhave been proud of his counsel to players. "Make your beds, write your mamas, and go to church on Sundays;' he advised. Star halfback Marlin "Scooter" Dyess played for the University of Alabama during Bryant's first season. "He stressed character;' said Dyess. "He said, 'I wasn't hired to come in and build character, but we are going to work on it: He talked about commitment and above all to be honest, and to do all things with truth and integrity;' Dyess said. "We never had been taught these things by the other regime" (namely, the era of Coach J. B."Ears" Whitworth, who preceded Bryant as head coach). Dyess was there when Bryant delivered one of his most renowned motivational speeches during his second season, right before the Auburn game, which the Tide was expected, as usual, to lose. After prophesying that Alabama "had a chance;' (Auburn had been runner-up in the SEC the previous year and had lost only two games in the present season) Bryant began talking almost in religious tones about the players' families. He reminded them that their fathers, "who have worked so hard they probably had wrinlded hands;' would be at the game, and that their mamas, who had raised and nurtured them, would be there also-watching. Their grandparents "who are getting up in age might be there as well;' he told them. Then he cast his eyes upon the ground and wrung his hands, saying, "Now, I just want us to stop and think about our families, and all they mean to us, and what you mean to them:' By the time he was finished, many of the players were choked up; some had tears in their eyes. No one present was unmoved by the lecture. Then Bryant let fly with the eloquence of a real life Elmer Gantry: "Now, can you honestly tell me that you are going to go out there on Saturday, and let those country sons-ofbitches beat you in front of all those fine people that have meant so much to you all their lives?" Dyess remembers, "I had

never had a talk like that. You couldn't help but be motivated:' And it worked: Dyess, who went on to score the winning touchdown (using a trick play Bryant sent in), and the Crimson Tide broke a string of humiliating losses to Auburn that went back beyond recent memory. AULBRYANT WASA BIG, imposing presence, and when he entered a roomwhether it was a team meeting, the Green Room of the White House, or the Hogsbreath saloon-there would be a noticeable change in

All-American cornerback Don McNeal was named to the University ofAlabama All-Centennial Team. He was drafted in the first round by the Miami Dolphins.
RIGHT:

the tone of conversation. The attention would focus on him, and people who met him always remembered it. Before each season began, Bryant sent every player a letter or telegram with inspirational advice. Don McNeal,

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for the Miami Dolphins before becoming a pastor, remembered Bryant always preached class: "Wherever you go, whatever you do, always show your class. Ifyou don't have class, nothing else much matters:' One of McNeal's teammates, right guard Vince Cowell, who also played on the 1978 and 1979 championship teams, has his favorite Bryant saying taped to the top of his computer screen: "If you make a mistake, admit it, learn from it, and don't repeat it!" And Eddie Bo Rogers, a linebacker in 1966-1967, remembers to this day Bryant's caution against what is now called "celebrating:' Rogers says, "If he'd see a player grandstanding-jumping up and down or struttin' around after scoring or making a tackle, he'd just say, 'You need to act like you've been there before: Think about that. I'll always remember that. Think about it today:' As indicated by such words, Bryant had strict rules and standards and did not take kindly to those who violated them. He famously benched Joe Namath for the 1964 Sugar Bowl for allegedly drinking a beer. In his 1969 annual summer letter to players concerning the upcoming season, he told Danny Thomas, a center, "We expect you to be capable, confident, well-conditioned, well-disciplined, mean, ambitious and proud;' adding in a postscript his opinion of the Age of Aquarius: "You will be expected to act like and look like an Alabama football player. No one with long hair or long sideburns will be issued equipment:' Bryant very much concerned himself with the image of his players, not because he was a prude, but because he thought that character and class must extend beyond the playing field if it was to have any lasting effect. When Bryant arrived on campus, he despaired over the athletic housing known as the "ApeDorm" because it seemed "like a bunch of apes lived there:' There was a measure of truth in the name, however: "When he [Bryant] first got there, it was bad;' Scooter Dyess recalled. "We had some roughnecks, drinkers, almost hoodlums. He ran a lot of that riffraff off on pur-

pose, and then let me tell you what he started-we couldn't believe it:' Bryant, it seems, had contacted a number of sororities on campus and persuaded them to invite groups of team members over to their sorority houses for tea, warning players that "[ijf I hear of one instance where y'all are out of order at the sorority house, you are going to be in my office and get the consequences:' "All the girls would be there in the sorority downstairs and they would have little hors d'oeuvres" Dyess said, "and we kind of enjoyed it once we did it. That was the first tea party any of us had ever been to, and everybody was on their Ps and

Qs"

Good manners lVere a trait that Bryant decided needed to be drummed into his players. Like himself many of them came from rude beginnings, but Bryaht's mother had imparted at least the rudiments to him, and he was determined to pass those along. So it was with the famous story from the Tide's first appearance in the New Orleans Superdome for the 1979 National Championship against Penn State, when a reporter asked Coach Bryant on the sidelines why he did not have on his trademark houndstooth hat. "Because;' Bryant told the hapless newsman, "my mama always said that it is bad manners to wear your hat when you are inside:' Bryant's concern for propriety affected his players, too. When he first came aboard, Bryant arranged for his traveling squad to have crimson blazers and ties and white shirts when

Right guard Vince Cowell played on Bryant's final two championship teams. He still keeps his favorite Bryant saying taped to the top of his computer screen. OPPOSITE PAGE, ABOVE AND BELOW: Center Danny Thomas and other players received this "summer letter" in August 1969 outlining the goalsfor the upcoming season and training camp and setting some stern limits on personal appearance.
ABOVE:

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ALABAMA

HERITAGE:

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2013

(He roared at the tearful lineman: (Shut up! You should have been cryin'last week out at practice; that's when we lost this one!"
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they played on another campus, and, after the first national


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championship in 1961, they began work on the new athletic dormitory, Bryant Hall, to replace the Ape Dorm, which had
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begun to resemble some of the downtown buildings in Dresden at the end of World War II. (Unfortunately the NCAA made Alabama get rid of the crimson blazers and the football-only dormitory at Bryant Hall on the grounds that some colleges could not afford to offer their players such perks.)
RYANT'S QUEST TO ASSEMBLE

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Football pracUu .111 bauln Ih. mornlnll or AUlu" 19. The Hut maal \'Ifillb rvad a' tb. dorm the avanlnl of AUlUat 17 and you .Ill b. up.clad 10 arrlYe not ta'or than lb. mlddle or Iba afternoon on the Z7th. Pr .... radio, '81.vhlon, and athar nawa media will b. bere Auaue. 28. Yuu will ".0 hay. tb. Z8th on _hleh 10 dr your equipment, .at your room ."'anment, and taka your phyaleal exam, 'ndwllng tbo mUe run. ".portlnl In perlect phyalcal condUlon I. lolng to btl more important thi. y r than \t baa beeD hare ainc. tho e.ri, aiml 1'60'.) whan were .. lnninl Nallonal Champlon.hlp.. The r on (or tM. II b, lh. epenlnl pmet expect the whol_ atmo.pber. aruUDdhere to be oxactl, al It ..... at thaI. lima. We Oxpad you to be capable. conndant. w.U.II:OI\dUIoned eU.dlac:lpHned. milan. ambitloul. and proud.

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players extended well beyond the playing fields on the university campus. "When one of his scouts brought him news of a promising high school prospect;' McCollough said, "his first call was to someone in that town who was knowledgeable about the boy's family and his background. He would then contact the school principal to inquire about his grades and deportment. The last person he would call was the boy's coach:' Preparation was high on Bryant's list of personality assets he wanted to instill in his players. No better example can be

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found than a theatrical demonstration he put on in 1976 in the locker room in Athens after a humiliating 21-0 loss to Georgia, As Bryant was leaving the field, a Georgia fan had snatched the houndstooth hat off the coach's head, which put him in a particularly disgruntled mood, The atmosphere in the locker room was naturally gloomy, and a big lineman was crying when Bryant entered. Right behind Bryant was his security guard, who had retrieved the hat. Bryant "reached for the hat, grabbed it, and locked it all in one motion;' recalled punter Rod Nelson. "He roared at the tearful lineman: 'Shut up! You should have been cryin' last week out at practice; that's when we lost this one!" The room had fallen silent. Then, said Nelson, now a Birmingham attorney, Bryant decided to use the occasion for a lesson. "He turned and looked at all of us and roared, 'You ain't never won a game on Saturday! Youwin 'em the springs before, the summers before, and the weeks before!'" No one who was there forgot that scene, or the moral it taught.
ALABAMA HERITAGE: SUMMER 2013

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(He never could say my last name;' Steve Bisceglia remembered. 'He'd say, 1want Musso, Davis, LaBue, and Steve in the backfield:" o.
Mark Prudhomme, a Crimson Tide safety from 1973~1975, remembered being drilled over and over by Bryant that preparation meant the difference between losing and producing champions and winners. Bryant "preached having a plan A and a plan B and being able to adjust on the fly if something unexpected happens, which it almost always does:' said Prudhomme, a Memphis insurance agent who still takes that lesson to heart today. Thoroughness was another of Bryant's themes, which left a lasting impression on McCollough following the 1965 Orange Bowl against the Texas Longhorns. It was Texas 21~Bama 17 in the final seconds when Joe Namath drove to the Longhorn's sixyard line. Fullback Steve Bowman slammed the ball to the four, the two, and finally the six-inch line. Namath called a quarterback sneak on fourth down and smashed into the pile. MeCollough, the center, remembered, "Joe was lying right on top of me. I was in the end zone, and Joe was in the end zone. An official had raised his hands to signal a touchdown. We alljumped up and started celebrating:' But to Alabama's consternation, another official overruled the call and gave Texas the ball and the ball game. Steve Bowman said afterward, "I didn't think I'd scored, but I'll always think Joe did:' For his part, Namath declared, "I'll go to my grave knowing I scored. I have a sick, infuriating feeling [about it]:' Bryant was standing on the sidelines scowling, his arms folded. when a player passed by and said bitterly, "We scored:' Gaylon McCollough was there to over14
ALABAMA HERITAGE: SUMMER 2013 ABOVE:

hear Bryant's response: "If he'd walked into the end zone with the ball then there'd be no question about it, would there?" "The lesson taught by Coach Bryant was this;' McCollough said fortyodd years later: "Leave no room for Bryant counsels his Namath led the

quarterback, Joe Namath.


LEFT:

Crimson Tide to the 1964 National Champ-

ionship.
PAGE:

OPPOSITE

Fullback Steve Bisceglia.

doubt. I try with everything I do, especially in my medical work, to go beyond what is simply necessary. If you want to accomplish something in life, don't do just enough to get the job done, because life's referees might not make the right call either:'
RYANT'S DEVOTION

out for the Tennessee game. When it was over, Biscegliawent down to the locker room, and Bryant asked how he liked it. "Well, if I'dknown the fans were that serious about it;' Bisceglia told him, "I'd have played harder:'
T WASN'T ONLY THE STARS, the

to his players was legendary. Hundreds if not thousands of his players will attest that "he never forgot you" and would go to great lengths to assist players after their football days were past. Donny Johnston, a halfback from 1966 to 1969, had wanted to be an architect, but Alabama had no architectural school, so he decided to major in something else and pursue architecture later. After he graduated he found that architecture schools were hard to get into, so he went to see Coach Bryant. Johnston remembers how Coach Bryant "picked up the phone and called [Coach] Darrell Royal at Texas:' He said, "I'm sending a boy out there to go to school. See if you can help him out" That one phone call opened many doors for Johnston, from getting into Texas to finding a job, and in 1976 he 1 graduated with a master's degree in architecture. Fullback Steve Bisceglia came to Alabama from California in 1971, because he had never seen the South, and he immediately got on a first-name basis with Coach Bryant. It was because "he never could say my last name;' Bisceglia remembered. "He'd say, 'I want Musso, Davis, LaBue, and Steve in the backfield:" After Biscegliahad graduated and returned to California, one day Bryant phoned and said, "Iwas just sitting here thinking about it, and you're probably the only player I've ever had who's never seen an Alabama football game:' It was true. Bisceglia had played in forty-two games for Alabama, but he never watched one from the stands. Bryant offered to fly him t'
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big name players, who Bryant looked out for. Kellie Callies of Fairhope had wanted to play for Alabama since he was ten years old. He had the chance in 1974 as a walk-on defensive taclde. "Iwasn't very fast and not quite tall enough;' Callies remembers, but he played on the freshman team, and the scout team, and finally his senior year he got to dress out at home games. He sat on the bench until the last minutes of Alabama's 1977 homecoming game against Louisville, when Bryant finally put him in. "I made the best of my four-play career;' Callies said. "I made two tacldes for a loss and forced a pass. It was one of the proudest moments of my life:'After that, he returned to warm the bench, but Bryant thoughtfully mentioned Callies's name the next day on his Sunday football TV show. In one of his summer letters to his players, Bryant challenged: "We must prove in practice that we are brave and we will beat cowards in the fourth quarter. We must give so much in preparation that we are assured that we will never surrender or give up on Saturday afternoons. Like me, tolerate me, put up with me, or hate me-this is the course we will pursue because it is the only sure way to win, and if you do it, you will have a little something special as an individual:' The players did like Bryant, and they learned to trust him. "He always had a motive for what he did;' Scooter Dyess said. "We thought he was crazy sometimes, but turns out he was right:' Many players reflect daily on the lessons they learned from Bryant, and linebacker Lee Roy Jordan, one of the
ALABAMA HERITAGE: SUMMER 2013

15

Bryant and Jordan enjoyed a mutual respect, and the coach liked to tell people, "I]they stay between the lines, Lee Roy will get them."
.'

lfyou can't be loyal,you are in the wrongplace. Anybody can be liked, a heck of a lotfewer respected. Don't tolerate lazy people. They are losers. Never quit.
"There's not a day goes by I don't look at that list:' Jordan says. RYANT WOULD BEA HUNDRED years old this year, and there are probably some who would say he had an antique sense of principles and honor that is out of date in today's world. However, ask any of his former players about that, and they will disagree. They are living proof that Bryant's philosophy of life is as genuine now as it was a hundred years ago when his mama started teaching it to him down in Moro Bottom, Arkansas. B~ant's legacy lives on today-not just in the streets, structures, and statues that bear his namet, or coach's favorites, is no exception. Bryant and Jordan enjoyed a mutual respect, and the coach liked to tell people, "If they stay between the lines, Lee Roy will get them:' Jordan, an All-American center and All-Pro Dallas Cowboy, recalls many things Bryant taught him, and he keeps a list of them framed on the wall of his office in Dallas. He nearly lost them a year ago when the office burned, but they were among the few things saved, although he admits they were "singed up a bit:' These "Bryantisms" include gems such as: ./ in the many literal namesakes he has strewn among Alabama fans and their children, or in the houndstooth pattern that graces everything from hats to tablecloths-but in the lives of his players. They think about him frequently, and their own personal and professional identities embody the lessons he taught them. And they pass those lessons along to others-a sure marker that Coach Bryant's influence transcends the football field to transform countless lives throughout Alabama and the nation.

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ABOVE LEFT: All-American Lee Roy Jordan chats with Coach Bryant. He was one of Bryant'sfavorite players. LEFT:

Jordan made thirty-one tackles in a 17-0 victory over Oklahoma in the 1963 Orange Bowl. OPPOSITE PAGE:Bryant spent twenty-five seasons patrolling the Alabama sidelines.
16
ALABAMA HERITAGE: SU

"Heroared at the tearful lineman: 'Shut up! You should have been cryin'last week out at practice; that's when we lost this onel" .'
they played on another campus, and, after the first national
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dormitory, Bryant Hall, to replace the Ape Dorm, which had


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begun to resemble some of the downtown buildings in Dresden at the end of World War II. (Unfortunately the NCAA made Alabama get rid of the crimson blazers and the foot-

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ball-only dormitory at Bryant Hall on the grounds that some colleges could not afford to offer their players such perks.)

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RYANT'S QUEST TO ASSEMBLE

a team of class

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players extended well beyond the playing fields on the university campus. "When one of his scouts brought him news of a promising high school prospect:' McCollough said, "his first call was to someone in that town who was knowledgeable about the boy's familyand his background. He would then contact the school principal to inquire about his grades and deportment. The last person he would call was the boy's coach:' Preparation was high on Bryant's list of personality assets he wanted to instill in his players. No better example can be found than a theatrical demonstration he put on in 1976 in the locker room in Athens after a humiliating 21-0 loss to Georgia. As Bryant was leaving the field, a Georgia fan had snatched the houndstooth hat off the coach's head, which put

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him in a particularly disgruntled mood. The atmosphere in


the locker room was naturally gloomy, and a big lineman was crying when Bryant entered. Right behind Bryant was his security guard, who had retrieved the hat. Bryant "reached for the hat, grabbed it, and kicked it all in one motion:' recalled punter Rod Nelson. "He roared at the tearful lineman: 'Shut up! You should have been cryin' last week out at practice; that's when we lost this onel" The room had fallen silent. Then, said Nelson, now a Birmingham attorney, Bryant decided to use the occasion for a lesson. "He turned and looked at all of us and roared, 'You ain't never won a game on Saturday! Youwin 'em the springs before, the summers before, and the weeks before!" No one who was there forgot that scene, or the moral it taught.
ALABAMA HERITAGE SUMMER 2013

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