March 18, 2013
Paul “Bear” Bryant
Paul Bear Bryant made a huge impact in SEC football. His family life, football career,
and coaching career all contributed to making him the well known, respected man he was, and
still is today.
Bryant was born in rural Cleveland County, Arkansas on September 11, 1913. He was
born to William Monroe and Ida Kilgore Bryant which made him the eleventh out of twelve of
their children. Bryant was forced to learn how to work on the farm along with his siblings due to
his father’s disability. His family moved to Fordyce when Bryant was a teen. He played football
and basketball at Fordyce High School. His famous nickname “Bear” resulted from Bryant
agreeing to wrestle a bear when a traveling circus came to town. He jumped out of the ring after
the bears muzzle came off. Bryant was a part of the 1930 Arkansas state football championship
“Red Bugs” his senior year. The University of Alabama’s football team recruited Bryant and he
had to take additional classes to meet the requirements of the University because he hadn’t
graduated from high school.
The University of Alabama’s assistant coach had came to Arkansas to scout two other
boys but ended up signing Bryant to an athletic scholarship. He helped the University of
Alabama’s football team win the Southeastern conference championship while playing right
offensive end in the SEC’s inaugural season in 1933. During a game against Tennessee in 1935,
he was playing with a broken bone in his leg and still led the team to a 25-0 victory. He also
married Mary Harmon Black in 1935 and they eventually had two children, Bryant helped his
team claim the national title while playing in the Rose Bowl before he graduated.
After Bryant’s playing career, he went on to start his coaching career. In 1936 the Union
College in Tennessee hired Bryant to install the Notre...