Coach William Paul "Bear" Bryant - University Head Coach
Coach Bryant was born Paul William Bryant in Kingsland, Arkansas. He earned the nickname "Bear" by wrestling a bear in a theater.
Bear was an all-state high school football player in high school and later played college football for the University of Alabama. His first coaching job was as an assistant coach there after graduating in 1935. His first job as a head coach was at Maryland where he acquired a reputation as a demanding coach and strict disciplinarian.
In 1946 at Kentucky, Bryant coached the team to four bowl games and won their only Southeastern Conference title. In 1956 at Texas A&M,, he won the Southwest Conference championship in 1956.
When Coach Bryant returned to the University of Alabama in 1958, he revitalized the Crimson Tide football program into the nation's top-ranked college football team. His 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, and 1979 teams all won National Championships.
In 1981, he broke Amos Alonzo Stagg's record of 314 coaching victories and finished coaching with 323 career wins. Under Bryant, Alabama had 25 winning seasons and was selected for bowl games 24 times.
He retired from the University of Alabama in 1982 and died less than a year later.