Young Reporter Recalls The Day The Bear Called
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com College Football Blogger
It was National Signing Day and I was due to interview Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant about that year’s class.
I was a young reporter for the Alabama student newspaper, the Crimson White. Bryant was late in his coaching career, on the verge of retirement, really.
Knowing his time was about done, he had gone all out that year and signed one of the country’s top classes. I was to do a story on that class and, of course, this required that I talk to the head coach.
A time had been arranged for him to call me in the CW’s office. I didn’t think it was a big deal, really. After all, I had interviewed him several times at press conferences and after games.
But when I walked into the office, the entire staff was there, gathered around as if waiting for some big news event to happen. I did not immediately realize they were there because the Bear was calling.
At the appointed time the phone rang and it was Bryant. I was going to take the call in the outer office but the sports editor shoved me into his office and shut the door.
The Interview With The Bear
Bryant answered my questions and after a while, started cracking a few light jokes. He did have a good sense of humor, something quite a few people might find surprising.
We both started laughing and the conversation ended on a high note, him chuckling, “what else do you want me to say!?”
“That’s about it coach!,” I replied. I thanked him for the call, he thanked me for doing a story on his recruits and that was the end of the interview. It lasted about 20 minutes.
When I emerged from the room, I was smiling and kind of laughing, but then stopped dead in my tracks. The entire CW staff was staring at me in silence. The room was so quiet you could hear a football drop.
It was awkward and I didn’t know what to make of it. Did they really want to know what the Bear had said on a simple recruiting interview?
Finally, the crackpot on the staff deadpanned, “Well, what did God have to say?”
That broke up the silence and people then came over to me and wanted a report.
It showed me how much power and how much respect the students had for Bryant And it still sticks with me today.