Alabama Academy of Honor

Paul W. Bryant

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1969.

Paul W. Bryant, former Athletic Director and head football coach at the University of Alabama, was born in Fordyce, Arkansas, and first came to Alabama in 1931. It was that year that he was recruited for a football scholarship by Coach Hank Crisp.

He college career saw success for the Crimson Tide football team, for which Bryant played right end. He was a member of the famous 1934 Alabama team which defeated Stanford 20-13 in the Rose Bowl to climax an undefeated season.

Throughout Paul Bryant's years as head football coach, he compiled an enviable record of success. He began coaching as an assistant under Coach Frank Thomas at Alabama in the late 1930's, then spent two years as an assistant at Vanderbilt before enlisting in the Navy where he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander.

In 1945, Bryant began his long career as a head coach at the University of Maryland, and led the Terrapin football team to a 6-2-1 record. One year later, he went to Kentucky, where he stayed eight years and rolled up a 60-23-5 record. His Kentucky teams won the SEC championship once and went to four bowl games.

Bryant went to Texas A&M in 1954, and over a four-year span, went from a 1-9 season in 1954 to an undefeated record in 1956. Overall, his Texas-A&M teams won 25, lost 14, and tied 2. Paul Bryant's alma mater called him home in 1958 where a rebuilding program vaulted him soon into the ranks of American's premier football coaches. In his first eleven years at the helm of the Crimson Tide, his young charges won 96 football games, lost only 15, and tied seven. Bryant's outstanding career at Alabama brought national recognition to the state, as his teams won six national championships, in 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1979. In 1961, he was named national "Coach of the Year" in recognition of his accomplishments. Bryant's teams went to ten successive bowl games.

Overall, Paul W. Bryant compiled a national record of 323 victories as a head football coach. But perhaps most important was the contribution he made to the lives of the hundreds of young men who came under his tutelage.

Bryant was active in civic affairs and served as Co-Chairman of a Fund Raising Drive to built chapels at Bryce, Part low, and Search hospitals for mentally ill and mentally retarded patients. He was a frequent after-dinner speaker, and was in constant demand for coaching clinics and other public appearances.

Bryant, now deceased, was a grandfather, and was active in several business enterprises in addition to his duties as coach and Athletic Director.