35 Facts About Bear Bryant


Paul William "Bear" Bryant was an American college football player and coach.


Bear Bryant is considered by many to be one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, and best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team.


Bear Bryant was known for his trademark black and white houndstooth hat, even though he normally wore a plaid one, deep voice, casually leaning up against the goal post during pre-game warmups, and holding his rolled-up game plan while on the sidelines.


Bear Bryant's nickname stemmed from his having agreed to wrestle a captive bear during a carnival promotion when he was 13 years old.


Bear Bryant accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Alabama in 1931.


Since he elected to leave high school before completing his diploma, Bear Bryant had to enroll in a Tuscaloosa high school to finish his education during the fall semester while he practiced with the college team.


Bear Bryant played end for the Crimson Tide and was a participant on the school's 1934 national championship team.


Bear Bryant was the self-described "other end" during his playing years with the team, playing opposite the big star, Don Hutson, who later became a star in the National Football League and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.


Bear Bryant himself was second team All-Southeastern Conference in 1934, and was third team all conference in both 1933 and 1935.


Bear Bryant played with a partially broken leg in a 1935 game against Tennessee.


Bear Bryant was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, and as a senior, he married Mary Harmon, which he kept a secret since Alabama did not allow active players to be married.


Bear Bryant was selected in the fourth round by the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1936 NFL Draft, but he never played professional football.


However, Pearl Harbor was bombed soon thereafter, and Bear Bryant declined the position to join the United States Navy.


Bear Bryant then served off North Africa, on the United States Army Transport SS Uruguay, seeing no combat action.


Bear Bryant was later granted an honorable discharge to train recruits and coach the North Carolina Navy Pre-Flight football team.


In 1945,32-year-old Bear Bryant met Washington Redskins owner George Marshall at a cocktail party hosted by the Chicago Tribune, and mentioned that he had turned down offers to be an assistant coach at Alabama and Georgia Tech because he was intent on becoming a head coach.


Under Bear Bryant, Kentucky made its first bowl appearance in 1947 and won its first Southeastern Conference title in 1950.


Bear Bryant led Kentucky to appearances in the Great Lakes Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Cotton Bowl Classic.


Years after leaving Lexington, Bear Bryant had a better relationship with Rupp.


For instance, Bear Bryant was Alabama's athletic director in 1969 and called Rupp to ask if he had any recommendations for Alabama's new basketball coach.


Some of Bear Bryant's assistants thought it was even more difficult, as dozens of players quit the team.


Bear Bryant himself began feeling the same way and considered either retiring from coaching or leaving college football for the National Football League.


For years, Bear Bryant was accused of racism for refusing to recruit black players.


Bear Bryant finally was able to convince the administration to allow him to do so, leading to the recruitment of Wilbur Jackson as Alabama's first black scholarship player who was recruited in 1969 and signed in the Spring of 1970.


Bear Bryant coached at Alabama for twenty-five years, winning six national titles and thirteen SEC championships.


Bear Bryant was a heavy smoker and drinker for most of his life, and his health began to decline in the late 1970s.


Bear Bryant collapsed due to a cardiac episode in 1977 and decided to enter alcohol rehab, but resumed drinking after only a few months of sobriety.


Bear Bryant experienced a mild stroke in 1980 that weakened the left side of his body and another cardiac episode in 1981 and was taking a battery of medications in his final years.


Shortly before his death, Bear Bryant met with evangelist Robert Schuller on a plane flight and the two talked extensively about religion, which apparently made an impression on the coach.


Four weeks after making that comment, and just one day after passing a routine medical checkup, on January 25,1983, Bear Bryant checked into Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa after experiencing chest pain.


In 1962 Bear Bryant filed a libel suit against The Saturday Evening Post for printing an article by Furman Bisher that charged him with encouraging his players to engage in brutality in a 1961 game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.


Bear Bryant reached a separate out-of-court settlement on both of his cases for $300,000 against Curtis Publishing in January 1964.


Bear Bryant is mentioned as one of the titular 'Three Great Alabama Icons' in the song of the same name by the Drive-By Truckers on their album.


Bear Bryant won fifteen bowl games, including eight Sugar Bowls.


Bear Bryant still holds the records as the youngest college football head coach to win three hundred games and compile thirty winning seasons.