Bear Bryant -- Dirty Cheatenous Slut

237 views
Skip to first unread message

Glenn Tanner

unread,
Jan 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/13/98
to



Paul Bryant's Middle Years:
Reputation Saved

By HarryDery

On November 18, 1961, Bear Bryant led his team against then
Southeastern Conference rival Georgia Tech at Legion Field in
Birmingham. Bryant had won three straight against the Yellow Jackets
employing tactics that many had decried as brutal and animalistic.

Yet, Georgia Tech's legendary head coach Bobby Dodd was not among
Bryant's critics. Dodd and Bryant were publicly friendly at the time.
Each expressed great admiration for what the other had accomplished.
Whether the friendship really ran deep or was just a matter
professional courtesy, few observers at the time had reason to believe
that there was any animosity between the two men.

That is, until the events of November 18. The actions of the Bama
players in this game and the lack of response from Bryant and the
Southeastern Conference would end Dodd's friendship with Bryant
forever and result in the severing of ties between Georgia Tech and
the SEC three years later.

The single incident that became a national symbol for the type of
dirty football allegedly encouraged by Bryant occurred in the fourth
quarter on a routine punt return on which Alabama's return man called
for a fair catch. The score was 10-0 and Alabama was determined to
pound the last hopes for victory from the Tech squad.

Georgia Tech's Chick Graning was running down field on punt coverage
when he saw the fair catch signal. Thinking the play was over, he
pulled up, temporarily dropping his guard. That was all Alabama's
Darwin Holt, a Texas native and a senior who'd followed Bryant from
A&M, needed to see. He sprung at Graning, throwing a forearm into the
unsuspecting young man's face and shattering his jaw.

Graning fell to the ground unconscious as Holt ran to the sidelines
where he was embraced by a gleeful Alabama sideline that included
legendary Alabama linebacker LeRoy Jordan as well as the young and
impressionable Mickey Andrews-- now a coach at Florida State
University.

Astoundingly, the SEC officials did not even flag the play and
accounts of the game by Alabama's media did not even mention it.

Everywhere else in America, and especially in Georgia Tech's hometown
of Atlanta, it was the story of the week. Graning's jaw and cheekbone
were shattered, he'd lost five teeth, suffered a concussion and, since
his nasal bone had also been destroyed, his sinuses had flooded with
blood. The Atlanta Constitution ran photos of the brutalized young
Graning lying in his hospital bed with his face smothered in bandages.
The papers called for Holt to be suspended for what was, to them, an
obviously late and dirty hit.

Alabama declined, offering an apology instead.

The SEC Commissioner, a man by the name of Bernie Moore, said that the
SEC could and would do nothing about the incident.

Holt, whose late hit had perpetrated the incident, explained that he'd
meant to smash his forearm into Graning's chest, but that his arm had
"slipped" up into Graning's jaw and "accidently" shattered his face.

Bryant said he was sorry.

No one believed him. Whatever the truth of the incident, Alabama and
Bear Bryant had already earned a reputation as an outlaw school that
not only played dirty, but reveled in their reputation as a dirty
football team. Bryant, fairly or not, was perceived as a man who would
do anything to win a football game. The Graning incident only served
to confirm what many outside of Alabama already believed: Bryant was a
dirty coach and his team employed dirty tactics.

Furman Bisher wrote a lengthy article for The Saturday Evening Post
entitled "College Football is going berserk" in which he claimed that
Bryant coached his team to deliberately try and knock opposing players
senseless using dirty and illegal tactics. Bisher had attended several
Alabama practices and noted what he felt was an attempt to teach
improper technique including the throwing of forearms which had
resulted in Graning's injury.

Auburn coach Ralph Jordan announced that Alabama had forced an
escalation in violence among southern football teams, admitting that
his team was taking up the same, "hell-for leather, helmet busting,
gang-tackling brand of football. Since Bryant came back to Alabama,"
he asserted, "it's the only kind of game which can win."

Bryant sued the post over the story.

Yet, The Post wasn't done. Soon, they printed another story asserting
that Bryant had been getting scouting reports from former Georgia
coach Wally Butts. Butts was an infamous alcoholic and womanizer who'd
been forced from his job as head coach at Georgia due to both his off
the field antics and his inability to win games. Butts was known to
spend weekends in Atlanta getting drunk and hopping from one unseemly
night club to another with young women half his age. In Georgia in the
1960s, this simply wasn't acceptable behavior for a leader and a
football coach.

Allegedly bitter over his treatment, Butts was accused of giving
inside information to Bryant that helped Alabama destroy his former
team. The primary source of this accusation was an Atlanta businessman
named George Burnett who claimed to have overheard a conversation
wherein Butts spoke to Bear Bryant at length giving him very specific
details about what Georgia would do and how he would best be able to
counter their movements.

Burnett was a former Eagle scout and second lieutenant in the Air
Force who had once attended Texas A&M. He had no past record that
would suggest any reason to manufacture such claims.

Bryant and Butts denied the charges, suing The Saturday Evening Post
for libel. Butts won his case. Bryant settled out of court. The Post
tried to appeal Butts' victory but the appeal was denied and The Post
ultimately printed a half-hearted retraction.

Yet, there is ample evidence to suggest that Burnett's story was true.
Butts phone records for the day Burnett claimed to have overheard the
two coaches talking included two long distance calls that corresponded
to the exact time Burnett claims Butts was in his office speaking with
Bryant. The first was to Frank Scoby, a well-known Chicago gambler who
admitted to betting on college football games and described himself as
a "compulsive gambler." Immediately after speaking with Scoby, Butts
called Bear Bryant and spoke with him for over an hour.

James Kirby, in his book Fumble, suggests that the lawyers for The
Saturday Evening Post badly bungled their case. Further, he suggests
that many of Bryant's witnesses, which ominously included a young
Charlie Pell, may have falsified their testimony in order to help
Bryant cover up his misdeeds.

Kirby believes that Butts was guilty of trying to fix the game and
that Bryant willingly accepted confidential reports on Georgia's
practices and strategy. Whether Bryant acted on these reports and
whether they made a difference in the game, no one can know. But when
all of the evidence was weighed, including an incredible and
unprecedented number of calls between Bryant and Butts in the weeks
before the Alabama- Georgia game, it is hard not to believe that
Bryant did, in fact, cheat.

Yet, the two closely linked scandals, both featured prominently in The
Saturday Evening Post, and elsewhere, seemed to engender a change in
Bryant's attitude. He wanted to win, yes, but he also began to crave
the respect of his peers. The University of Alabama, too, was growing
weary of its increasingly negative reputation and alumni and
supporters were calling on the school to clean up its act.

When the NCAA issued new guidelines for officials which called upon
them to start enforcing unnecessary roughness penalties and regain
control of the game, Bryant knew that those rules were directed at
him. No longer would his team be given carte-blanche to push the
envelope. America was turning against the outlaws and, if Bryant
wanted to win, he'd have to change his methods.

Both Kirby and longtime Bryant follower Mickey Herskowitz note a
distinct and deliberate change in Bryant's attitude at this time.
"This crisis in his career," Kirby writes, "apparently prompted him to
clean up his act. He mellowed in his treatment of his players and
opponents and was never again the subject of a major scandal."

Herskowitz noticed other small changes. Bryant became less prone to
kicking players off the team. He also allowed some back who'd once
quit. The ruthlessness was gone and replaced by the demanding but
forgiving father figure familiar to Bryant fans toward the end of his
life. The only exception was drugs. Bryant had no tolerance for drug
abuse and any player caught using drugs was thrown off the team
immediately.

The change in Bryant's attitude and his newfound tolerance was most
exemplified by the quarterback position. A pair of coach-defying
free-spirits in the form of Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler become
symbols of Alabama football in the late 1960's.

Bryant would win a total of six national titles in the space of
eighteen years-- five of them came after the scandals had passed and
he'd begun to be seen as a model coach.

Bryant would successfully oversee the integration of the Alabama
football team and the easing of racial tensions in his adopted state.
He became respected throughout America for his leadership and the
scandals that once plagued him were long forgotten by the end of his
glory years in the 1970's. Bryant had rehabilitated himself and gone
from an outlaw to an icon. And, best of all for the Alabama fans, he
kept on winning while doing it.

In the final installment of my piece on Bear Bryant, I will explore
Bear Bryant's life in the 1970s and '80s. The last column will focus
on the wishbone offense, Bear's love of Los Vegas, and the chase for
Amos Alonzo Stagg's record for most career victories as well as
Bryant's death and his continuing legacy.
______________________________________________________________

Email HarryDery at hary...@atlantic.net

Return to Columns Page


Dylan F. Alexander

unread,
Jan 13, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/13/98
to

In article <69h6eo$gp2$2...@news.tamu.edu>, goo...@unix.tamu.edu (El Goob
(Gary W. Smith)) wrote:

}In some article, Glenn Tanner <tan...@hawaii.edu> wrote:
}->
}->
}->
}-> Paul Bryant's Middle Years:
}-> Reputation Saved
}->
}-> By HarryDery
}->
}-> On November 18, 1961, Bear Bryant led his team against then
}-> Southeastern Conference rival Georgia Tech at Legion Field in
}-> Birmingham. Bryant had won three straight against the Yellow Jackets
}-> employing tactics that many had decried as brutal and animalistic.
}->
}-> Yet, Georgia Tech's legendary head coach Bobby Dodd was not among
}-> Bryant's critics. Dodd and Bryant were publicly friendly at the time.
}-> Each expressed great admiration for what the other had accomplished.
}-> Whether the friendship really ran deep or was just a matter
}-> professional courtesy, few observers at the time had reason to believe
}-> that there was any animosity between the two men.
}->
}-> That is, until the events of November 18. The actions of the Bama
}-> players in this game and the lack of response from Bryant and the
}-> Southeastern Conference would end Dodd's friendship with Bryant
}-> forever and result in the severing of ties between Georgia Tech and
}-> the SEC three years later.
}->
}-> The single incident that became a national symbol for the type of
}-> dirty football allegedly encouraged by Bryant occurred in the fourth
}-> quarter on a routine punt return on which Alabama's return man called
}-> for a fair catch. The score was 10-0 and Alabama was determined to
}-> pound the last hopes for victory from the Tech squad.
}->
}-> Georgia Tech's Chick Graning was running down field on punt coverage
}-> when he saw the fair catch signal. Thinking the play was over, he
}-> pulled up, temporarily dropping his guard. That was all Alabama's
}-> Darwin Holt, a Texas native and a senior who'd followed Bryant from
}-> A&M, needed to see. He sprung at Graning, throwing a forearm into the
}-> unsuspecting young man's face and shattering his jaw.
}->
}-> Graning fell to the ground unconscious as Holt ran to the sidelines
}-> where he was embraced by a gleeful Alabama sideline that included
}-> legendary Alabama linebacker LeRoy Jordan as well as the young and
}-> impressionable Mickey Andrews-- now a coach at Florida State
}-> University.
}->
}-> Astoundingly, the SEC officials did not even flag the play and
}-> accounts of the game by Alabama's media did not even mention it.
}->
}-> Everywhere else in America, and especially in Georgia Tech's hometown
}-> of Atlanta, it was the story of the week. Graning's jaw and cheekbone
}-> were shattered, he'd lost five teeth, suffered a concussion and, since
}-> his nasal bone had also been destroyed, his sinuses had flooded with
}-> blood. The Atlanta Constitution ran photos of the brutalized young
}-> Graning lying in his hospital bed with his face smothered in bandages.
}-> The papers called for Holt to be suspended for what was, to them, an
}-> obviously late and dirty hit.
}->
}-> Alabama declined, offering an apology instead.
}->
}-> The SEC Commissioner, a man by the name of Bernie Moore, said that the
}-> SEC could and would do nothing about the incident.
}->
}-> Holt, whose late hit had perpetrated the incident, explained that he'd
}-> meant to smash his forearm into Graning's chest, but that his arm had
}-> "slipped" up into Graning's jaw and "accidently" shattered his face.
}->
}-> Bryant said he was sorry.
}->
}-> No one believed him. Whatever the truth of the incident, Alabama and
}-> Bear Bryant had already earned a reputation as an outlaw school that
}-> not only played dirty, but reveled in their reputation as a dirty
}-> football team. Bryant, fairly or not, was perceived as a man who would
}-> do anything to win a football game. The Graning incident only served
}-> to confirm what many outside of Alabama already believed: Bryant was a
}-> dirty coach and his team employed dirty tactics.
}->
}-> Furman Bisher wrote a lengthy article for The Saturday Evening Post
}-> entitled "College Football is going berserk" in which he claimed that
}-> Bryant coached his team to deliberately try and knock opposing players
}-> senseless using dirty and illegal tactics. Bisher had attended several
}-> Alabama practices and noted what he felt was an attempt to teach
}-> improper technique including the throwing of forearms which had
}-> resulted in Graning's injury.
}->
}-> Auburn coach Ralph Jordan announced that Alabama had forced an
}-> escalation in violence among southern football teams, admitting that
}-> his team was taking up the same, "hell-for leather, helmet busting,
}-> gang-tackling brand of football. Since Bryant came back to Alabama,"
}-> he asserted, "it's the only kind of game which can win."
}->
}-> Bryant sued the post over the story.
}->
}-> Yet, The Post wasn't done. Soon, they printed another story asserting
}-> that Bryant had been getting scouting reports from former Georgia
}-> coach Wally Butts. Butts was an infamous alcoholic and womanizer who'd
}-> been forced from his job as head coach at Georgia due to both his off
}-> the field antics and his inability to win games. Butts was known to
}-> spend weekends in Atlanta getting drunk and hopping from one unseemly
}-> night club to another with young women half his age. In Georgia in the
}-> 1960s, this simply wasn't acceptable behavior for a leader and a
}-> football coach.
}->
}-> Allegedly bitter over his treatment, Butts was accused of giving
}-> inside information to Bryant that helped Alabama destroy his former
}-> team. The primary source of this accusation was an Atlanta businessman
}-> named George Burnett who claimed to have overheard a conversation
}-> wherein Butts spoke to Bear Bryant at length giving him very specific
}-> details about what Georgia would do and how he would best be able to
}-> counter their movements.
}->
}-> Burnett was a former Eagle scout and second lieutenant in the Air
}-> Force who had once attended Texas A&M. He had no past record that
}-> would suggest any reason to manufacture such claims.
}->
}-> Bryant and Butts denied the charges, suing The Saturday Evening Post
}-> for libel. Butts won his case. Bryant settled out of court. The Post
}-> tried to appeal Butts' victory but the appeal was denied and The Post
}-> ultimately printed a half-hearted retraction.
}->
}-> Yet, there is ample evidence to suggest that Burnett's story was true.
}-> Butts phone records for the day Burnett claimed to have overheard the
}-> two coaches talking included two long distance calls that corresponded
}-> to the exact time Burnett claims Butts was in his office speaking with
}-> Bryant. The first was to Frank Scoby, a well-known Chicago gambler who
}-> admitted to betting on college football games and described himself as
}-> a "compulsive gambler." Immediately after speaking with Scoby, Butts
}-> called Bear Bryant and spoke with him for over an hour.
}->
}-> James Kirby, in his book Fumble, suggests that the lawyers for The
}-> Saturday Evening Post badly bungled their case. Further, he suggests
}-> that many of Bryant's witnesses, which ominously included a young
}-> Charlie Pell, may have falsified their testimony in order to help
}-> Bryant cover up his misdeeds.
}->
}-> Kirby believes that Butts was guilty of trying to fix the game and
}-> that Bryant willingly accepted confidential reports on Georgia's
}-> practices and strategy. Whether Bryant acted on these reports and
}-> whether they made a difference in the game, no one can know. But when
}-> all of the evidence was weighed, including an incredible and
}-> unprecedented number of calls between Bryant and Butts in the weeks
}-> before the Alabama- Georgia game, it is hard not to believe that
}-> Bryant did, in fact, cheat.
}->
}-> Yet, the two closely linked scandals, both featured prominently in The
}-> Saturday Evening Post, and elsewhere, seemed to engender a change in
}-> Bryant's attitude. He wanted to win, yes, but he also began to crave
}-> the respect of his peers. The University of Alabama, too, was growing
}-> weary of its increasingly negative reputation and alumni and
}-> supporters were calling on the school to clean up its act.
}->
}-> When the NCAA issued new guidelines for officials which called upon
}-> them to start enforcing unnecessary roughness penalties and regain
}-> control of the game, Bryant knew that those rules were directed at
}-> him. No longer would his team be given carte-blanche to push the
}-> envelope. America was turning against the outlaws and, if Bryant
}-> wanted to win, he'd have to change his methods.
}->
}-> Both Kirby and longtime Bryant follower Mickey Herskowitz note a
}-> distinct and deliberate change in Bryant's attitude at this time.
}-> "This crisis in his career," Kirby writes, "apparently prompted him to
}-> clean up his act. He mellowed in his treatment of his players and
}-> opponents and was never again the subject of a major scandal."
}->
}-> Herskowitz noticed other small changes. Bryant became less prone to
}-> kicking players off the team. He also allowed some back who'd once
}-> quit. The ruthlessness was gone and replaced by the demanding but
}-> forgiving father figure familiar to Bryant fans toward the end of his
}-> life. The only exception was drugs. Bryant had no tolerance for drug
}-> abuse and any player caught using drugs was thrown off the team
}-> immediately.
}->
}-> The change in Bryant's attitude and his newfound tolerance was most
}-> exemplified by the quarterback position. A pair of coach-defying
}-> free-spirits in the form of Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler become
}-> symbols of Alabama football in the late 1960's.
}->
}-> Bryant would win a total of six national titles in the space of
}-> eighteen years-- five of them came after the scandals had passed and
}-> he'd begun to be seen as a model coach.
}->
}-> Bryant would successfully oversee the integration of the Alabama
}-> football team and the easing of racial tensions in his adopted state.
}-> He became respected throughout America for his leadership and the
}-> scandals that once plagued him were long forgotten by the end of his
}-> glory years in the 1970's. Bryant had rehabilitated himself and gone
}-> from an outlaw to an icon. And, best of all for the Alabama fans, he
}-> kept on winning while doing it.
}->
}-> In the final installment of my piece on Bear Bryant, I will explore
}-> Bear Bryant's life in the 1970s and '80s. The last column will focus
}-> on the wishbone offense, Bear's love of Los Vegas, and the chase for
}-> Amos Alonzo Stagg's record for most career victories as well as
}-> Bryant's death and his continuing legacy.
}-> ______________________________________________________________
}->
}-> Email HarryDery at hary...@atlantic.net
}->
}-> Return to Columns Page
}->
}
}When I drove back from Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago, I didn't notice
}the "Tuck Fexus" spray panted on the railroad bridge just south of Norman.

What color did they use?

--
Dylan Alexander dy...@tamu.edu

"Please Dylan, in the name of all that's holy, leave us be. If
annoyance were a crime, you'd be Jeffrey Dahmer." - C. Chase

El Goob (Gary W. Smith)

unread,
Jan 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM1/14/98
to


- goob (strange) smith


Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages