It is only fitting Alabama and Texas A&M are squaring off in one of the top games of the college football season this weekend in College Station. Perhaps someone in the SEC scheduling office took note that today marks the birthday of Paul "Bear" Bryant, a man who would have been 100 years old if still alive today and one who helped shape Alabama and Texas A&M to the programs they are today. Maryland and Kentucky wish they could have said the same, for sure.
There is not much else that can be said about The Bear that has not already been said. Oh, he had his flaws of course but when it came to coaching the guy was a winner. The man in the signature houndstooth hat won six national championships, 14 SEC titles, 1 Southwest Conference title and was a lock for the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986. If a Mount Rushmore of college football were to be made, Bryant's stoic and stern image would be there without contest. Bryant won 323 games in his coaching career, a mark that only two have since passed at the FBS ranks, Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno.
Bryant coached one year at Maryland and eight years at Kentucky before moving to Texas A&M, where The Junction Boys became storied legend. After four years at Texas A&M it was off to Bryant's alma mater, Alabama, where he would transform the Crimson Tide in to a college football juggernaut in short time. In his fourth year in Tuscaloosa, Bryant led the Tide to a Sugar Bowl victory to cap the 1961 season, clinching a national championship year in style. Alabama had won national titles before, but it had been 20 years since the last national championship was celebrated by Alabama. the longest drought between national titles since then has been 17 years, between the 1992 and 2009 seasons.
We have some really good coaches in the game today, but the chances any of them are remembered for decades in the same way we look back on Bryant will remain to be seen. Nick Saban? Urban Meyer? Who do you think has the best chance to be remembered as one of the game's all-time great coaches, if any exist in today's game?