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It was both fun and interesting for me to read Lars Anderson’s newest book Chasing The Bear. 

Please allow me to explain. 

You see, I was part of both the Bryant and Saban eras in Tuscaloosa, and that’s the topic of this book. With Bryant, I was both student and part-time journalist. With Saban, I was also a journalist and alum. 

It cannot be argued that these two time periods are the two greatest in Alabama history, and really, college football history from a success standpoint. The book explains how Bryant and Saban built that success, and does so in detail.

I realize that a Wall Street Journal reviewer said Anderson’s book contained no new info. Maybe that is so, as I have not personally read everything written about Bryant and Saban. However, with the exception Monte Burke’s Saban unauthorized bio, I’ve read most of it. 

I’ve read Christopher Walsh’s Decade of Dominance on Saban’s 2009-18 historic run. I’ve read books on Bryant by Alan Berra, Keith Dunnavant (two), and John Underwood. I also worked many years for Kirk McNair, who covered and worked for Bryant and covered (with me) Saban.

Bottom line: I think I know more than the average Joe about the two greatest coaches in college football history. Or so I thought before I read Chasing The Bear. I learned things, and I thank Anderson for that. Isn’t that a major reason we read? 

This book is a fun, interesting, entertaining and informative read.

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Though I learned several things I didn’t know about each coach. I will only share one in the interest of not playing the spoiler role.

I did not know the story former NFL Coach of the Year Bruce Arians told about his first tenure at Alabama under Bryant. It occurred during the 1981 season, Arians’ first as an assistant in Tuscaloosa and Bryant’s next-to-last. Arians was meeting with his running backs and heard a knock on the door. It was Bryant’s secretary Linda Knowles, who asked if the team was practicing that day. Arians replied that they were, then saw his watch and noticed he and his backs had but a few minutes to get dressed and hit the field.

They did so, and were a tad late for the daily stretching period. Arians though he might be in store for a Bryant butt-chewing, but instead the grizzled coach came down from his tower (which usually struck fear in players and coaches) and complimented Arians on the job his backs did that day.

“[Crap], y’all ought to be late more often,” Bryant told Arians. “That was the best damn practice y’all had all year.”

To be sure, there are a handful of other stories spread throughout the book I had not heard and there were quite a few I had heard. I won’t ruin it for you by revealing any more examples of either. 

Suffice it to say that if you love University of Alabama football or college football in general, then Chasing The Bear is worth your while to purchase and read. The book is available from most fine bookstores and from among others. 

You can to for a complete list of ways to order a copy as well as more information on the origin of both the book and its author, the highly-respected Anderson.

Even if you read Chasing The Bear and feel like you already knew it all (which I doubt highly), then you’ll still enjoy reliving the two greatest eras in college football history and seeing/remembering how first Bryant and then Saban built programs back from the ashes they were in when each man first arrived in Tuscaloosa.