Paul Finebaum visited Paul Bryant’s grave and got one of the Bear’s rare interviews. Here’s where they wound up:
“Well, the school supposedly offered Nick Saban a small fortune. Story in the Miami paper said with the bonuses, the number could go as high as $57 million, although Alabama folks denied it.”
“He’s not bad. A little arrogant. So when does Saban start?”
“Uh, Coach, he said he wasn’t interested.”
“He turned down $57 million?” said Bryant, his voice raging with anger. Finally, he calmed down and said, “So what’s next? Petrino?”
“Said he wasn’t interested.”
“What about Butch Davis? Didn’t he put Miami back on the map after probation?”
“Coach, he desperately wanted the job but Alabama let him get away to North Carolina first.”
A loud groan was heard.
“Then the school offered to double the salary of Rich Rodriguez of West Virginia.”
“West Virginia,” screamed the Bear. “Why would we hire a coach from that backwoods place? I can’t believe we hired the stupid West Virginia coach at Alabama. How embarrassing. He better not put on one of my houndstooth hats.”
“Uh, Coach, he turned it down, too. Said he wanted to stay in Morgantown.”
Suddenly, the whipping wind stopped cold and there was neither sound nor motion.
A small, faint echo emitted, almost like a small baby crying. It became a little louder and finally, stopped.
“I’m sorry,” said Bryant. “I got a little bit emotional for a second. I can’t believe after all those years I put in that this has happened to my beloved school. We have become a laughingstock, a national punch line. Tell me, son, is there any hope at all?”
I took a deep breath and began walking toward my car. I looked back for a fleeting moment and slowly shook my head in silence.
Now, I’m not sure it’s as bad as all that. There are still some big name guys out there. And, as I recall, the Tide played in the Liberty Bowl the Bear’s last game. Still, this isn’t exactly the program he left behind.
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