Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Paul "Bear" Bryant. In case you live under a rock, he coached at the University of Alabama for 25 years, winning six national titles (61, 64, 65, 73, 78, and 79) and thirteen SEC championships. He also coached at Texas A&M and Kentucky-- but no one really remembers or cares.
He was called "Bear" for a simple reason-- he wrestled a bear. And won. That is badass.
He played football for Alabama. And he was even more badass because he played against University of Tennessee with a broken leg. You read that right. Broken leg. That is so kickass.
His death came 28 days after his last game as a coach.
He finished with 323 wins. That's been passed by Joe Paterno at Penn State and by Bobby Bowden at FSU-- but, neither one of them have been thrust upon the throne of college football like Coach Bryant.
As a girl raised in an Alabama home, I was taught to know and believe in the Bear. He was the best. National champion coach Gene Stallings said it best: "Alabama fans love Bryant; they tolerate the rest of us." He has been the epitome of a hero my entire life.
He was famous for wearing a Houndstooth hat on the sidelines-- and today houndstooth holds a special place in the hearts of most Alabama girls like me.
I love Coach Bryant. And he died a few weeks after my 2nd birthday. 250,000 people paid their respects after he died-- his funeral filled 3 churches and lined the streets of Tuscaloosa.
He's remembered. He's honored. He's worshipped. He's the best coach ever.
"He wasn't just a coach," former USC coach John McKay said. "He was the coach."
Nick Saban may be the current coach at Alabama, but Bear Bryant is always going to be my coach.