- NAME: Bear Bryant
- OCCUPATION: Coach
- BIRTH DATE: September 11, 1913
- DEATH DATE: January 26, 1983
- Did You Know?: Bear Bryant received 1 1/2 votes for the Democratic presidential nomination at the party's 1968 national convention in Chicago.
- Did You Know?: Bear Bryant died one month after coaching his final game, on January 26, 1983.
- EDUCATION: University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Moro Bottom, Arkansas
- PLACE OF DEATH: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
- Full Name: Paul William Bryant
- Nickname: Bear
- AKA: Paul Bryant
Best Known For
American college football coach Bear Bryant won six national championships at the University of Alabama and retired with a record 323 wins (since surpassed).
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Born on September 11, 1913, in Moro Bottom, Arkansas, Bear Bryant starred at end for the University of Alabama football team. After successful coaching stints at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M, he won six national championships over 25 years with Alabama, and retired with a record 323 wins in 1982. Bryant died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on January 26, 1983—one month after coaching his final game.
"I don't want ordinary people,I want people who are willing to sacrifice and do without a lot of those things ordinary students get to do. That's what it takes to win."
Paul William "Bear" Bryant was born on September 11, 1913, in the community of Moro Bottom, outside Fordyce, Arkansas. The 11th of William Monroe and Dora Ida Kilgore Bryant's 12 children, he grew to an imposing 6'1" and 180 pounds by age 13, earning his famous nickname by agreeing to wrestle a bear from a traveling circus.
Bryant was an offensive lineman and defensive end for Fordyce High School, earning all-state honors for the 1931 Arkansas High School Football State champions. He went on to play at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where, despite being the "other end" opposite future NFL Hall of Famer Don Hutson, he was twice named to the all-Southeastern Conference third team and once to its second team.
After graduating in 1936, Bryant became an assistant coach at Alabama for four years and Vanderbilt University for another two. He joined the U.S. Navy after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, his service time bookended by stints as coach of preflight training school football teams in Georgia and North Carolina.
Named the head coach of the University of Maryland shortly before his discharge in 1945, Bryant went 6-2-1 in his lone season with the Terrapins. He then enjoyed a successful eight-year run at the University of Kentucky, highlighted by a 1950 season in which the Wildcats ended the University of Oklahoma's 31-game winning streak and he was named the SEC Coach of the Year.
At the start of his first year as head coach of Texas A&M University in 1954, Bryant put his team through an infamously brutal training camp at an agricultural station in Junction, Texas. Two-thirds of the players quit before camp ended, and the Aggies went 1-9 to give Bryant his only losing season as a head coach, but those who remained formed the core of the undefeated unit that won the 1956 SEC championship.
Bryant returned to his alma mater in 1958 as head football coach and athletic director, his five wins that year surpassing the team's output from the previous three seasons. Pacing the sidelines in his trademark houndstooth hat, he established the Crimson Tide as college football's team to beat over the following decade, winning the national championship in 1964, '65 and '67.
When the program began to sputter late in the decade, Bryant updated his offensive system and recruited the school's first black players. The result was a return to dominance, with the Tide winning the national championship in 1973, '78 and '79.
Bryant wrapped up his legendary career in December 1982 with a then-college football-record 323 victories.
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