Quick now, football fans! What is the name of the poor little ex-farm boy from Moro Bottoms, Ark. who grew up to become a director of a bank and an insurance company, who prefers turnip greens to steak, who dotes over his grandchildren, sings hymns in the shower and reads The Wall Street Journal? Oh, yes. He is also the best darn millionaire football coach in America today. Got it? Right you are. Paul William (Bear) Bryant. And if some of those facts have escaped your dossier on the Alabama coach then you have not read Benny Marshall's book, Winning Isn't Everything. *But it beats anything that comes in second. Chances are you won't read it, either, unless you are fan enough to send $4 to Bear Book, P.O. Box 577, Birmingham, because that is the quaint way Benny and his publisher, The Parthenon Press, have the distribution set up.
Marshall, sports editor of The Birmingham News, is one of those Alabamans who believe you go to Bryant when you die. He never misses a chance to defend the cause—and stoutly. "Blown out of proportion," he calls the Holt-Graning incident, in which an Alabama linebacker (Darwin Holt) hospitalized a Georgia Tech back (Chick Graning).
Wherever Bryant has coached—Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M, Alabama—he has been a huge success. Marshall explains that success in terms of the feeling Bryant engenders, the tears he sheds and the fears (Bryant? Fears?) he has felt. He quotes the players, the first line of Bryant allegiance: "When I came to Alabama a sorority girl wouldn't even date a football player. It's different now." "He's hard on people who play dirty football."
Once Bryant kicked Joe Namath, then and still a big favorite of the Bear's, off the team before the last two games of Namath's junior season. Namath had broken a training rule. Bryant's assistants were aghast. They asked him to reconsider. Bryant called Namath into their meeting. "Joe," he said, "these men think I made a mistake. They think you should be allowed to play.... The only way, Joe, is for me not to be the coach here." Namath, Marshall relates, said he wouldn't want that. Obviously nobody in the state would want that.
November 8, 1965
"The eyes of the new kids coming by widen in startled recognition" when they see Bryant, writes Marshall. "The heads swing around. There he is. If Coach Bryant is aware he gives no sign. They will write home about it." Marshall, wide-eyed, has written home about it.