High Fives to Frank Beamer, Steve Spurrier and Jerry Kill!
Over the last few weeks we’ve had some great college football coaches announce their retirements – Coach Beamer started coaching in 1972, Coach Spurrier in 1978, and Coach Kill in 1985. Thank you gentlemen for your commitment and the positive influence you had on thousands of young men.
In early December of 1982 I was finishing my last semester of law school in Birmingham when Coach Bryant announced that Alabama’s game against Illinois in the Liberty Bowl would be his last. I had taken a break from studying for finals and had stopped at a local diner to grab something to eat. Televisions were on and all three Birmingham stations were covering the press conference where Coach said “they (the players) deserved better coaching than they have been getting from me”. That’s who Coach Bryant was! That night when I got home I wrote a letter to Coach Bryant thanking him for the impact he had on me and the many life-lessons I had learned in the four year I played for him. The next morning I dropped the letter in the mail. About a week later I got a letter from the University of Alabama Athletics Department – above the return address was hand-written “Paul Bryant”. It was a letter from Coach Bryant that I feel sure he had typed himself. This was 1982, before computers, and it was typed on a typewriter – Coach had some typos that he had “backed-over” and changed. Coach thanked me for my letter and that it meant the world to he and Mary Harmon (his wife) to hear from “one of his boys”. In typical Coach Bryant fashion, he continued on and said that “he and Mary Harmon” wanted to thank me for allowing them to be a part of my life for those four years. Coach closed by wishing me good luck on my move to Orlando (where I was setting up a law practice with Robert Fraley) and he looked forward to sitting down and visiting with me the next time I was in Tuscaloosa.
That’s the person Coach Bryant was. With all the national media stampeding into Tuscaloosa to get interviews, Coach Bryant took the time to write a letter to a former player and tell that player how important that player was to Coach and Mary Harmon. Like Coach Beamer, Coach Spurrier and Coach Kill, Coach Bryant loved his players and spent his life working to help make us better football players and better men and, when it’s all said and done, that’s what really makes a coach great.
If you have any questions or comments, you can reach me on my cell (561-662-3251) or my office (205-874-0368) or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can reach Jonathan Shugart on his cell (334-559-6906) or his office (205-874-0396) or you can email him at email@example.com.