Sports Outside the Beltway

Saban and Bryant

Todd has an interesting post on the parallels between the Bear Bryant and Nick Saban hires at Alabama.

The proud program was humbled and humiliated, clinging to fond memories of Rose Bowls and national championships past and tossing around names like Wallace Wade and Frank Thomas. Understanding the importance of Alabama football to both the university itself and the state as a whole, Dr. Frank Rose insisted that Alabama hire a coach with “a remarkable record in his profession…a good recruiter, who knows the South. A nationally recognized man.” Their primary target was former Alabama player and (then) current head coach of the Texas A&M Aggies, Paul Bryant. Bryant was considered one of the best coaches in the country already, having won everywhere he went and having been wooed by plenty of other college programs and even the pro ranks (Preston Marshall, owner of the Washington Redskins, had tried to hire Bryant during his stay at Kentucky). Unfortunately for Alabama, Coach Bryant had other ideas. His loyalty was to the Aggies, as he had never quit a job simply because there was another offer on the table. His tenure at Maryland lasted one season because of administrative meddling in athletic affairs, and he left Kentucky after eight winning seasons and an SEC title because of the long shadow of Kentucky basketball. He recommended Jim Tatum, his successor at Maryland and then head coach of North Carolina, for the job, and politely declined. But the end of the 1957 season saw Bryant change his mind. His Aggies had lost two games and the conference title by three points, and his team had dropped from a #1 ranking earlier in the season to #10 as he watched Rice and Texas accept bids to the Cotton and Sugar Bowls, while he was headed to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl. Though he was unprepared to confirm that he was headed for Alabama, he stretched the language as far as he could, saying things like he would have liked to have thought he hadn’t considered the job and that his only focus was the upcoming match with the Longhorns. Bryant felt he owed it to his players to make the trip to Jacksonville with them, their first since coming off probation, and delayed any confirmation that he wanted and had accepted the Alabama job until after the last game.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Much more at the link.

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