Bryant is still revered

Published 1:22 pm Monday, September 11, 2017

I am a Dawg through and through. My father started as a free safety for Georgia in the late 1960s, I cried when Georgia lost to Pitt and Penn State in the early 1980s, and have always voluntarily worn the red and black.

With this in mind, I can say that Coach William “Bear” Bryant was, is and will probably forever be, the most revered college head football coach.  Because he is college football, a large picture of him hangs in our “Georgia room” between Herschel Walker and Vince Dooley.

The 11th of 12 children, Bryant grew to an imposing 6’1” by age 13.  About that time, he would earn his famous nickname by wrestling a bear.

He won six national championships over 25 years with Alabama, and retired with a record 323 wins in 1982. Bryant died 28 days after coaching his final game.

While he was a brilliant tactician, and a great recruiter, it was his form of leadership that set him apart.  Some of critical leadership qualities include: Seeing the big picture — At the beginning of his tenure at every school, he had an overall vision of exactly what that football program should look like.

Communication —Coach Bryant communicated his vision not only to his players and assistant coaches, but also to the administration, the faculty, and the students.

Motivator — Coach Bryant could get the best out of his players.   

Character and hard work —   He recruited and hired men who would put in the extra hours.  He valued a less talented player who would work tirelessly to become better over a more talented player who was lazy. He also valued honesty, integrity, and taking personal responsibility.

From 1958 to 1982, you could easily spot the coach with his houndstooth hat, oftentimes leaning on a goalpost surveying the battlefield before the game. The following month after his death, President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

But his spirit and dominant legacy are very much alive today.

Just ask any four-year-old boy in any town in Alabama wearing an Alabama shirt who was Coach Bryant.  The child might respond by saying, “Sir, do you mean who he is?”

Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior

Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group in Carrollton.