Coach Paul Bear Bryant

Bryant Office Jacket

September 11, 1913 – Paul William Bryant is born in Moro Bottoms near Moro Creek in southern Arkansas. Moro Bottom was a three-square mile plot of land where seven families lived.

He is the 11th of 12 children borne by Ida Kilgore and Wilson Monroe Bryant. Three of the Bryant children had died in infancy.

1924 – The Bryant family moves to nearby Fordyce, Ark., a town of 3,600 people.

1926 – Paul Bryant goes out for football and plays in the first game he ever sees. He has cleats screwed into his shoes, the only pair he owns, and wears them everywhere he goes.

1927 – The young teenager goes to the Lyric Theatre in Fordyce. where anyone who will wrestle a bear can win a dollar a minute. Bryant wrestles the bear but the owner and the bear escape without paying. He didn’t get the buck but he got a nickname.

1930 – Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant leads his high school team, the Fordyce Red Bugs to a perfect season and a state championship.

1931 – Alabama assistant coach Hank Crisp comes to Fordyce trying to sign the Jordan twins, who opt to go to Arkansas. Crisp leaves with one Paul Bryant.

1933 – In the first year of the Southeastern Conference, Bryant helps the Crimson Tide to the initial SEC Championship.

1934 – Paul Bryant becomes known in football folklore as the ‘other end’ to Don Hutson as Alabama goes 10-0 and beats Stanford 29-13 in the Rose Bowl. The Crimson Tide claims the national title by a number of polls in the pre-AP era.

June 2, 1935 – Paul Bryant secretly marries Mary Harmon Black in Ozark, Ala. He doesn’t tell Coach Frank Thomas in fear he’ll take away his scholarship.

October 19, 1935 – The legend of Bryant continues to grow as he plays against Tennessee in Knoxville with a broken bone in his left leg and he leads the Tide to a 25-0 victory over the Volunteers. The Tide goes 23-3-2 during his three-year career.

1936 – Bryant is hired at Union College in Tennessee to install the Notre Dame Box offense. He’s making $170 a month when Frank Thomas calls him home to Alabama as an assistant coach, paying him $1,250 a year. Daughter Mae Martin is born.

1940 – Bryant goes to Vanderbilt as an assistant coach to Red Sanders after being recommended by sports writer and close personal friend Fred Russell. Bryant helps the Commodores upset the Tide 7-0 in 1941.

December 7, 1941 -Bryant and Hall of Fame New York Yankee catcher Bill Dickey are going to Arkansas where Bryant is in line to be named the head coach of the Razorbacks when they hear news of Pearl Harbor on the radio. They turn around and head back to Nashville and Bryant enlists in the Navy.

1942-44 – Bryant serves in the Navy, in North Africa, before being stationed at North Carolina, where he coached the Pre-Flight Team. He receives an honorable discharge with the rank of Lt. Commander.

1945 – Four years after almost becoming the head coach at Arkansas, Bryant lands the head coaching position at Maryland and quickly turns the Terps into a winner, going 6-2-1.

1946 – Bryant accepts the head coaching job at Kentucky and turns a 2-8 team into a 7-3 one. One of the losses was 21-7 defeat at the hands of Alabama in a game played in Montgomery.

1947 – In his second year at Kentucky, Bryant takes the Wildcats bowling, finishing with an 8-3 record, with one of the defeats being a 13-0 shutout at the hands of Alabama in a game played in Lexington. Kentucky’s win over Villanova is the first bowl appearance ever for UK.

1950 – Bryant guides the Wildcats to an 11-1 record and the only SEC title in school history. With a team featuring Babe Parilli, Charlie McClendon and Pat James, the Wildcats stun the college football world by upsetting No. 1 Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1951. It ends a 31-game winning streak for Bud Wilkinson’s Sooners.

January 1, 1952 – Bryant leads Kentucky to a 20-7 win over TCU in the Cotton Bowl. As a player and a coach, he has already competed in the four major games of the era – Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton.

1953 – After a 7-2-1 season and a second place finish in the SEC, Bryant leaves Kentucky for Texas A&M.

September 1, 1954 – In his first year at Texas A&M, Bryant loads his team on buses and takes off for Junction, Tex., for pre-season training. The Aggies go 1-9 with the lone win being a 6-0 upset of Georgia.

November 12, 1955 – Trailing Rice 12-0 with two minutes to go, Bryant calls his team together and says, “There’s still time. You can still win – if you believe you can. Suck up your guts and win.” The Aggies rally and win 20-12. For years the game would become Bryant’s standard for others to live by.

1956 -Texas A&M goes 9-0-1 and wins the Southwest Conference, beating Texas 34-21 in the season finale in Austin. It is the first time ever the Aggies had beaten the Longhorns on their home turf.

1957 – John David Crow wins the Heisman Trophy for Texas A&M but the big news is that Paul Bryant is leaving after the Gator Bowl to coach his alma mater The University of Alabama. He finishes with a record of 25-14-2 at College Station.

Sept. 27, 1958 – The Bryant Era begins in earnest when the Crimson Tide faces eventual national champion LSU at Ladd StadiumBryant Hat in Mobile. Despite being out manned, the Tide takes a 3-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, prompting a standing ovation from the Bama crowd. Although the Tigers win 13-3, there is no doubt it won’t be long before Alabama is back. Fred Sington, Jr., kicked the field goal for the first points.

November 28, 1959 – Alabama beats Auburn 10-0 for the first win over the Tigers since 1953 and the Tide has definitely turned. A month later Bama is back in the bowl business, losing 7-0 to Penn State in the inaugural Liberty Bowl, held in Philadelphia’s Franklin Field.

1961 – After telling his new team in 1958 that if they believed in themselves and his plan they’d be national champions in 1961, Alabama does just that as Bryant becomes national coach of the year and the Tide has its first AP national title.

January 1, 1962 – Alabama caps off the ’61 run with a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, the first ever victory for the Crimson Tide in the Crescent City Classic.

January 1, 1963 – With President John F. Kennedy looking on, the Crimson Tide beats Oklahoma and Bud Wilkinson 17-0 in the Orange Bowl. Bryant’s favorite linebacker Lee Roy Jordan is credited with 31 tackles while sophomore passing sensation Joe Namath dissects the Sooner defense.

1964 – Alabama returns to the national championship throne with a November run that included a 17-9 win over unbeaten LSU at Legion Field, a 24-7 stinging of Georgia Tech in Atlanta and a 21-14 Thanksgiving feast over Auburn at Legion Field.

January 1, 1966 – Paul Bryant’s Tide claims the national title for 1965 on the first day of 1966 when Alabama stuns unbeaten Nebraska 39-28 in the Orange Bowl. It was the first ever night bowl game. Steve Sloan is the MVP. Bama had entered the game No. 4 and climbed over Michigan State (losers to UCLA in the Rose), Arkansas (losers to LSU in the Cotton) and Nebraska to claim the title.

1966 – Alabama goes perfect in ’66 but the polls elect Notre Dame No. 1 despite the Irish’s decision to refrain from appearing in bowls. In one of the most draining games in Tide history, Paul Bryant’s Tide rallies behind Kenny Stabler for an 11-10 victory over Tennessee on a rainy day in Knoxville.

1968 – Paul Bryant makes news away from the football field when he receives 1 1/2 votes for the Democratic Presidential nomination at the convention held in Chicago.

1971 – It was sink or swim, according to Paul Bryant, after his teams suffered from his standards sub par seasons from 1967-70. Visiting with Darrell Royal in Austin, Bryant decides to go to the wishbone and elicits vows of secrecy from all connected to the program.

September 10, 1971 – Alabama unveils the wishbone at the Los Angeles Coliseum on a Friday night and the Bryant Magic is back as the Tide stuns the college football world with a 17-10 victory over John McKay’s Trojans. It was the 200th career win for Bryant and probably none was sweeter than this one. It returned Alabama to its rightful spot in college football and quelled the rumors of the demise of Bryant, a day before he turned 58 years old.

1975 – Bryant tells his friend Aruns Callery of the Sugar Bowl in March that he wants to play in the first ever classic in the newly built Superdome; and he wants a name opponent. On December 31, 1975, the Crimson Tide plays Penn State and beats the Lions 13-6.

1977 – Paul Bryant’s Tide beats No. 1 Southern California in Los Angeles and rolls to No. 3 in the polls setting up a Sugar Bowl showdown with acclaimed Ohio State coach Woody Hayes. Alabama and the Tide beat the Buckeyes 35-6 on January 2, 1978, to finish the season 11-1 and ranked second in both major polls.

January 1, 1979 – For a game that forever became known for the goal line stand, Alabama beats Penn State 14-7 to clinch the national championship for the 1978 season. After the game, Bryant says, “There is only one team that could have stopped Penn State on the goal line and that team is Alabama.”

1979 – For the final time Bryant wins the national title, his sixth, as the Crimson Tide rolls through the season with a perfect 12-0 record, including a 24-9 win over Arkansas and Lou Holtz in the Sugar Bowl.

December 15, 1982 – Paul Bryant officially announces his retirement from the University of Alabama. Including the bowl win over Illinois, Bryant finishes with a record of 232-46-9 for his 25 years at the Capstone.

December 29, 1982 – Coaching in his final game, Paul Bryant and his Crimson Tide beat Illinois 21-15 at the Liberty Bowl played in Memphis, Tenn. Jeremiah Castille, a senior cornerback, is the MVP after intercepting three Illini passes. Craig Turner scores the final TD of the Bryant Era while Peter Kim’s PAT is the final point of the legendary coach’s career.

January 26, 1983 – Coach Paul Bryant dies at Druid City Hospital where he had entered the night before after suffering chest pains while visiting his friend Jimmy Hinton. The Coach was 69-years-old.

January 28, 1983 – Paul William Bryant is laid to rest at Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Ala. Tommy Wilcox, Paul Ott Carruth, Walter Lewis, Jerrill Sprinkle, Mike McQueen, Paul Fields, Jeremiah Castille and Darryl White serve as the pallbearers.