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"Ears" Whitworth, The Football Coach Alabama Forgot


Paul "Bear" Bryant's arrival in Alabama in 1958 and subsequent turnaround of the languishing Crimson Tide football program is a well known tale often retold. Just as common is the overlooking of the era prior and how one Jennings B. "Ears" Whitworth oversaw the almost complete collapse of the once-grand Alabama team.

Whitworth's watch was notably awful in about every way one can imagine. His 4-24-2 record is only part of the tale. He oversaw the abysmal winless 1955 season that was part of a 14-game losing streak. He might best be remembered for benching all of the team's seniors including future NFL great Bart Starr for an entire season.

In Whitworth's defense, he was hobbled by the inability to bring on his own staff and constant meddling from the Athletic Department. And, despite his deplorable win loss record his players later spoke highly of him as a person.

Still, embarrassing or not, this is a chapter in Alabama football lore and one that the lessons of are probably important to remember. Birmingham Weekly's Matt Hooper has a fantastic piece in this week's edition, Low Tide: "Ears" Whitworth and the Lost History of Alabama Football, that delves into the details of the coach's tumultious tenure and comes up with some surprising revelations.