Leaders of the Pack

Someone once said, “Everybody hates Alabama until they need a coach.”  While this statement prompts a giggle from the reader, it does seem to hold some truth.  University of Alabama college football boasts a history of some of the most successful coaches in history.  Two that come to mind first and foremost, are Paul “Bear” Bryant, and current Alabama coach, Nick Saban.

Paul “Bear” Bryant is probably the most widely known and celebrated coach to ever grace the campus of the University of Alabama.  With 323 victories on his belt at the time of his retirement, his record speaks for itself.  Bryant is such an icon with Alabama fans nationwide, that fans even follow his sense of style by wearing replicas of his famous houndstooth hat.

Bryant began his coaching stent at Alabama in 1958.  He remained at Alabama for 25 years, leading the team to victory after victory. The team won six national titles and thirteen SEC championships under his leadership.  Once when asked about his success as a coach, Bryant said, “Im just a simple plow hand from Arkansas, but I have learned over the years how to hold a team together.  How to lift some men up, how to calm others down, until, finally, they’ve got one heartbeat together as a team.”

Unfortunately, Bryant’s health began to decline in 1970 and he suffered from a cardiac episode in 1977 which caused damage to his body.  He was able to recover, and continue coaching, but decided in 1980 to retire as he felt the team at Alabama deserved better coaching than he was able to provide at that time.  Three years after his retirement, Bryant died from cardiac arrest.  Shortly after, president Ronald Reagan awarded him the highest award available to citizens, The Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

I doubt there is one adult in Alabama who doesn’t know the name Paul “Bear” Bryant.  And, synonymous with the name is triumph.

I don’t know one Alabama football fan who doesn’t speak with admiration of current coach, Nick Saban.   He is arguably the best coach in college football and possibly the best of all time in college football.  In 2008, Saban appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine named as the most powerful coach in sports. Nick Saban left the NFL to come to the University of Alabama in 2007. Since that time, he has led the team to four national championships.   

Saban is known for his leadership tactics that focus on teamwork.  Saban believes in his methods which have worked very well for him and his team in the past. When asked about his coaching methods, he said, “I’m all about being as good as I can be, and I’m all about trying to help the players be all they can be.”  He went on to share about how it encourages him to see players with whom he has invested time and effort in, go forward in life to achieve their dreams.  Many times, his leadership skills have made a huge impact on the individual.

Many Alabama fans often compare Bear Bryant and Nick Saban.  Each coach is legendary in his achievements.  Each had a unique coaching method and relationship to his team and was able to lead and inspire them to victory upon victory.  It’s not often that a state can boast of having had two of the most sought after coaches in college football.  Sometimes we wonder how we got so lucky!