The Coaching Genius of Paul "Bear" Bryant
My kids (having been trained early in the paths of righteousness) got me Allen Barra's outstanding biography of Bear Bryant, The Last Coach, for Christmas. It's a thoroughly researched and well-written book and I enjoyed it a great deal.
In reading it, I was reminded again of the outstanding success the Bear enjoyed. Although his major college victory mark has now been broken by Bowden and Paterno, each has coached significantly more games. Bryant has the highest career winning percentage (.780) of all of the winningest coaches. The contrast becomes even greater if you compare the best 20 year period of each coach's career. (In addition to coaching fewer games because of the schedule rule changes, Bryant rebuilt floundering programs at four different schools!)
Bear Bryant (1961-1980) .844
Joe Paterno (who despite this season had his best 20 years from 1966 to 1987!) .822
Bobby Bowden (1986-2005) .819
In the 1970s (71-80), Bryant's teams lost more than one game only twice in ten years! (No wonder I grew up expecting Bama to win every week...they almost did.) Four times during Bryant's best 20 years his team averaged giving up fewer than six points a game. Further, over his entire career, Bryant coached 129 games against coaches who are in the College Football Hall of Fame...and won 2/3 of them!
And to top off everything else, he won SIX national championships, and got cheated out of two others by the most overrated team in American sports history (Notre Dame) and the poll voters in 1966 and 1977 (not that I'm bitter or anything).
The Bear will have been gone for 23 years at the end of this month. But he was the greatest, and as they said of Patton, we will never see his like again. Thanks kids for the wonderful book, and the trip down memory lane.