SPORTS & RECREATION

Chasing the Bear: How Bear Bryant and Nick Saban Made Alabama the Greatest College Football Program of All Time

Grand Central. Sept. 2019. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781538716489. $28. SPORTS.
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In 1982, Paul “Bear” Bryant (1913–83) retired having won the most games in college football history. He still holds the record for the most national championships in the modern era with six, all won at Alabama. At age 68, current Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is chasing the Bear’s tracks, tying Bryant with six championships, five in Tuscaloosa. This joint biography from Anderson (journalism, Univ. of Alabama; The Storm and the Tide) takes a fresh look at their lives and careers, with alternating chapters describing the coaches at comparable points in their careers and stressing the similarities of these two very different men. Bryant is portrayed as a powerful man who commanded complete respect from his players but also exuded a warm, human touch. By contrast, Saban is pictured as a leader who also demands respect but who is brusquer and more businesslike in his personal interactions. What they share in Anderson’s view is dedication to their coaching methods and a flexible approach to the game itself.
VERDICT A captivating comparison of two legendary figures in college football that will draw interest from all football fans.

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