Bear Bryant Biography

Bear Bryant served as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team for 25 years, leading them to several victories. This biography of Bear Bryant provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 11, 1913

Nationality: American

Famous: Coaches American Men

Died At Age: 69

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: Paul William Bryant

Born in: Fordyce

Famous as: Football Player, Coache

political ideology: Democratic Party


Spouse/Ex-: Mary Harmon

father: William Monroe

mother: Ida Kilgore Bryant

Died on: January 26, 1983

place of death: Tuscaloosa

U.S. State: Arkansas

More Facts

education: University of Alabama

awards: 1961 - Paul

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Paul William “Bear” Bryant was a college football coach who had an illustrious career as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team, a post he held for 25 long and productive years. Lauded for being the most successful coach in the history of collegiate football in the U.S., he led his team to a record 323 wins. He was as much respected for his moral strength and courage as he was for his discipline and direction that made him a strict albeit much loved coach. Bryant, dressed in his trademark black and white houndstooth hat and sports jacket, watching the teams intently from the sidelines was a frequent sight during the warm ups and the games. A passionate football player from childhood, he led his team to victory in the Arkansas state football championship during his senior year in high school. In spite of being a brilliant player, he never played professionally and chose to become a coach upon his graduation. He served as the head football coach at the University of Maryland, the University of Kentucky, and Texas A&M University before coming to the University of Alabama for his historic innings as the most successful coach American collegiate football has ever seen.

Childhood & Early Life
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  • He became a coach at the Union University in Jackson after his graduation in 1936.
  • He was offered the position of an assistant coach under Frank Thomas at the University of Alabama. He held this post for four years till 1940.
  • During the World War II he joined the United States Navy. He reached the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was discharged from the Navy in 1944.
  • In 1945, Bryant became the head coach of the Maryland Terrapins. In his first season he led the team to a 6-2-1 record. However, he quit after a single season over a dispute with the president of the school.
  • He was appointed the football coach at the University of Kentucky in 1946. He coached the team for eight seasons during which he led them to victories in the Southern Conference (1950) and Sugar Bowl (1950).
  • He was offered the head coaching position at Texas A&M University in 1954. In spite of an inauspicious start, he led the team to victory in the Southwest Conference championship with a score of 34-21 in 1956.
  • During this time the football team of Alabama, his alma mater, was performing very poorly. So, he took over the team in 1958. He changed the team’s fortune upon his arrival and led them to a win over Auburn the very next year.
  • Alabama played in the Super Bowl in 1961 and went 11-0. They defeated Arkansas to claim the national championship. They won the Sugar Bowl again in 1963.
  • The team went undefeated in 1966 and beat the Nebraska team 34-7 in the Sugar Bowl.
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  • The team’s performances over the next few years were disappointing. In an attempt to revitalize his team, he adopted the newly designed wishbone formation instead of Alabama’s old power offense.
  • Bringing about this change enabled him to make the latter half of 1970s a successful one for Alabama. His team defeated the No. 1 Southern California in Los Angeles in 1977 and also beat the Buckeyes in 1978 and finished the season 11-1.
  • Alabama beat Penn State 14-7 in 1979 to win the national championship. His team registered a 24-9 win over Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl and ended the season with a 12-0 record.
  • He announced his retirement after the 1982 season.
Major Works
  • Bryant was Alabama’s head football coach for 25 years during which he led them to win six national titles. His all-time record as a coach was 323-85-17. He had 37 winning seasons out of his 38 seasons as a head coach.
Awards & Achievements
  • He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He married Mary Harmon in 1935 and had two children with her.
  • He died of a heart attack in 1983 within weeks of his retirement.
  • The Paul W. Bryant Museum was opened in the campus of the University of Alabama in 1988 in his honor.
  • A U.S. postage stamp was issued in his honor in 1996.

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