Greg's Reviews > The Last Coach: A Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant

The Last Coach by Allen Barra
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Jun 01, 11

Read in May, 2011

I really enjoyed Allen Barra's "The Last Coach: A Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant". Not so much because it was a wonderfully book, it was OK, but because it was a wonderful subject. Coach Bryant was so big and so full of life that he leaps from the page. Coach Bryant was larger than life and although he was demanding; he had a thoughtful side to him. This book covers it all from Bear's birth in Moro Bottom, Arkansas in 1913 to his death in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1982 when there was such a stir that the phone system crashed from the overload.

Bear always made a point to recruit not the best athlete or the biggest players but the ones with the most heart. He told his players "We are going to do two things. We are going to learn to play football, and we are going to get up and go to class like our mamas papas expect us to. And we are going to win. Ten years from now, you are going to be married with a family, your wife might be sick, your kids might be sick, you might be sick, but you will get your butt up and go to work. That's what I'm going to do for you. I'm going to teach you how to do things you don't feel like doing."

His tough side is well know. The Junction Boys story is a legend. But the softer side of Bear is not so well known. In 1973 a player for opposing TCU was hit during a play in Birmingham and was paralyzed. He said that Bear Bryant did more for him than his own school ever dreamed of. He said Bear would come into his hospital room in Birmingham and prop him up and put him at ease as if everything was going to be OK and then he would walk out in the hall and sit down and cry with the boy's parents.

Bear was the winning-est coach in college football history at his death. That came from skill and hard work. He often quoted Branch Rickey who said that "Luck is the residue of design".

Bear carried a devotional in his wallet:

"This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes this day will be gone forever, leaving something in its place that I have traded for it. I want it to be a gain, not loss...good, not evil. Success, not failure in order that I shall not forget the price that I paid for it."

Inspiring with no hype, a good book on a GREAT man!
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