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The last ride of Bear and Billy - ESPN.com


Billy Varner was Coach Bryant's longtime driver/assistant/bodyguard. He's 76 now and the effects of a stroke have severely affected his memory. ESPN writer Wright Thompson has penned a very moving account of Varner's struggles which becomes a metaphor for the fading memory of Coach Bryant and the cost of his legendary status among Alabama fans. I don't agree with Thompson's final assessment that the truth about Coach Bryant is in danger of being lost due to a desire to preserve some kind of God-cult. That's partly because Coach Bryant was always a man in complete control of how people perceived him and not hesitant to use it for his own ends. The truth about him was always tough to pin down and contradictions were an essential part of his nature. Moreover it seems farcical to posit that just buying a piece of houndstooth apparel blinds you to the humanity of a man by default, as the writer seems to suggest. Still, there is no escaping the fact that the number of people who knew Coach Bryant on an intimate basis are dwindling fast and the memory of him is being lost apace. If nothing else, this piece is worth reading to remember that.

The Final Act: Penn State, Alabama, And Joe Paterno


A few weeks ago, the folks over at the SB Nation site covering all things Penn State, Black Shoe Diaries, asked me to help out with a bit of background on a historical piece they were working on looking at the rivalry between the Crimson Tide and the Nittany Lions. Well, that story is posted today and I can't urge you enough to head over there and give it a read.

Coach Bryant Was Secretly Investigated By FBI for Civil Rights Violations, AP Reports


According to documents obtained by an FOI request, Alabama's legendary head coach was tracked by the FBI from 1969-1971 following allegations of discrimination against black athletes. The inquiry followed a lawsuit against Coach Bryant and the university filed by noted civil rights attorney U.W. Clemon on behalf of a black student organization. The agency compiled a 27-page dossier on Coach Bryant before the dismissal of the lawsuit in 1971.

Paul 'Bear' Bryant's gift that keeps on giving at Alabama


A very good piece by LA Times columnist Jerry Crowe concerning The Bryant Scholarship, established to ensure the children of Crimson Tide players will attend Alabama.

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