Bryant, Saban, Power & Alabama

An Auburn fan posted a comment on the blog about Nick Saban and Bear Bryant. The comment provoked a strong response from me, and I think it is something worth looking at closer.

Here’s the relevant portion of the comment: “I’m just glad we didn’t blow 40 grand for somebody other than the head coach to motivate his players….I wonder what Bear would think about that?”

This prompted my response.

Who cares what the Bear would think about it? I don’t.

While I appreciate the past, and I try to learn from the lessons of history (reading Caesar’s Gallic Campaigns or the like), I’m more interested in taking the lessons of the greats and applying them to the modern world.

Bryant can teach us many things, but he isn’t a lawgiver on a mountaintop. (though that would make an awesome photoshop project!)

From what I see, Auburn fans talk more about Bryant than we do.

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Alabama fans have a reverence for the past, but are looking toward the future. That was a topic covered in RBR’s Yea Alabama preseason magazine. Todd from RBR was on the Opening Drive on WJOX earlier this week. There is an element of the interview where Todd talks about that article on how Saban has changed fans. In case you missed it (and I did) you can listen to the interview of RBR’s Todd at the WJOX website.

Other things have changed too
Saban is changing not only the fans but the culture of Alabama football. There is no doubt about Saban’s position of power within the Alabama nation. It is safe to say there is none more powerful. And Forbes has only magnified this fact with making Saban its cover story.

The Forbes story sparked one of the best Cecil Hurt columns ever.

Hurt quotes The Tao Te Ching on leadership: “Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.”

Hurt then makes a very important point about the post-Bryant list of coaches.

Now that Saban has been granted this great authority, will he prove to be truly powerful and master himself? That’s where the Alabama job has swallowed other coaches in the post-Paul Bryant era, undone not only by external circumstances but by their own shortcomings as well. (Gene Stallings would be the exception.)

A source less obscure than the Tao Te Ching saw the same thing.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity,” Abraham Lincoln noted, “but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

The post-Bryant years could make a tragedy worthy of Aeschylus. Ray Perkins was done in by his own arrogance. Bill Curry was a buffoon forced on Alabama by a malevolant president. Gene Stallings was a bright spot during our winter of discontent; however, he was weakened by his own stubbornness. Mike Dubose was a man weakened by the appetites of the flesh. Dennis Franchione was a man who dropped his sword and fled like a coward, despite possessing great talent and ability. Mike Price couldn’t keep his pants zipped. Mike Shula was a man out of his depth.

None of these men knew how to control themselves or address their weakness. That is why they failed.

Cecil’s quote and this discussion reminded me of a quote of Sun Tzu: “If you know your enemy and know yourself, then you need not fear the outcome of a 1,000 battles.”

Saban has won the first of those 1,000 battles. He has Alabama fans thinking about the future more than the past. And that is a triumph worthy of a magazine cover. And maybe a statue.


Add Yours
  1. 1

    If you ever take the time to notice, visit an Alabama message forum and see just how many topics relate to Bear Bryant. After searching through about 3-4 pages and not finding anything, head over to a Barnie forum and see how many topics are titled “What does an Alabama fan and maggots have in common?” “Reports confirm Bear Bryant is still dead.” “Bear Bryant cheated.” And so on and so forth.

    They say we live in the past, yet they’re the people who constantly bring up Bear Bryant. Very enjoyable read!

  2. 2

    Excellent column Capstonereport. If coach Stalling would have realized you can’t have the number one defense in the nation every year he would have been around even longer. Good offense’s are very important with only eigty-five scholorship’s.

    THIS WEB SITE IS FOR BAMA FANS EYES ONLY PLEASE! Just click on CrimsonBrother Bama Nation.

  3. 4
    Auburn Trailer Trash

    CrimsonBrother, you hit the nail on the head without maybe realizing it. The difference today from the days of Bryant and Jordan, etc., is the 85 scholarship limit. In the 70’s teams could sign droves of players and did. If someone faltered, there was someone there to take his place in a heartbeat. In all honesty, I can’t imagine those old coaches tolerating then what coaches are forced to deal with today. Saban has had to deal with a depleted group that seems determined to get in trouble at times, but he can’t just send them ALL packing. He only has 85 to begin with, and several positions are only 2-3 deep. Every team faces the same problem, btw. At the end of the day, the fan base and administration would not be sympathetic if Coach Saban showed up with only one linebacker or one tight end for a game. He’s paid to win, but I think that in all fairness, we as fans have to remember that the coaches of today such as Saban and Tuberville are playing by a completely different set of rules than the old guard did. We as fans want to win every year and be in the National Title hunt every year, but really, thats not realistic to expect with the parity we have today in college football.

  4. 5
    Ballplay Indian

    Bryant was the best ever…No shame in sayin it…The whole Bear worship thing is slowly going away..But back in the 90s it was alive and well..Guys, yall had the best CFB coach ever….He will always be talked about. And he should be..

  5. 7

    Coaches like Bryant, Schembecler, Bowden, Neyland, Spurier and Vaught set the standard for all college football coaches. Today’s version is Pete Carroll, love him or hate him. Regardless, people are going to forever honor those coaches by remembering their legacy because they know no other coach will ever come close to accomplishing what they did for their team. And most Alabama fans aren’t as bad as the AUtards claim. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a conversation about Bear Bryant or the last time I even brought his name up, other than when I’m defending his name because an AUtard, who brought his name into the mix, was desecrating it.

  6. 8
    Hunter Ford

    I was going to write a column about Saban’s arrogance and contempt towards the media…maybe I will… or maybe just a short open letter.

    Coach Saban,

    You know, I am a lifelong Alabama fan and I have found something to like about most of our coaches since Bear. I’ll like you fine if you win, that’s the bottom line. Aiight?

    You haven’t done anything yet to give me warm fuzzy feelings. I wish you would stop your rants…saying crap like it is disrespectful for the media to put out depth carts…TAKE A CHILL PILL COACH!

    The media, and the fan interest it helps to fuel is part of what pays your enormous salary. While we (fans) are paying $3 for a crappy hotdog at the stadium… you can’t even beat LA MONROE for us.

    Your smiling face looked great on Forbes. I hope to see that winning smile during post game interviews following the LSU, Tennessee and Auburn games this season. For $4 mil per season you can at least go 2-1 in those games can’t you? AND NOT LOSE TO THE YELLOW SCHOOL BUS TEAMS?

    Roll Tide

    Good Luck and Best Wishes



  7. 10

    Bear Bryant still is one of the greatest coaches in college football. But so are Bowden (daddy) Peterno, Pete Carrol etc. I do not believe that one single person can be the best ever at any one thing or set of things.
    I am on this site as a UGA fan not Auburn fan as many of you are trying to say I am. You want to deny it but many of your fans still bring up Bryant A LOT! Not saying any of you but I was at the game between Georgia and Bama last year and I had so many of your fans screaming in our faces about Bryant. Saying Look at us you can’t beat us look at who we are. One guys looks at me and my buddy and says to us: “two words for you bastards: Bear Bryant” Then he goes on to tell us how Nick Saban is the best ever?? go figure
    That is the truth. You wonder why some people talk about you and rib you and give you shit.. it is your attitude. It is not just Auburn fans either. All of the SEC knows how you guys are. Just the simple truth. You can deny it and say whatever, doesn’t change it.

  8. 11

    harley2 just to let you know 90% of bama fans are not like that ,trust me i would never act like that to you or even an auburn fan. and so i would like to apologize to you on behalf of the whole bama nation! although i have said that bear bryant is the best coach of all time ,it is not because i hate all other great coaches it is because i dont know of any other coach that has won 6 national championships with one team!!!

  9. 12
    Auburn Trailer Trash

    I like your letter Hunter Ford. I personally think there should be a sliding scale for ticket prices based on wins. Every year our in-state schools raise the ticket prices, the food prices and make us park ever-further from the stadium. Okay, thats economics, but shouldn’t we the fans get something back if our team goes out and wins 4 or 5 games or really just sucks? Win a championship and charge $100 per ticket. Fine. Win 4 games and the tickets should be $10 bucks the next year with a free hotdog and Coke for every person who shows up. It would give new meaning to the term “Athletic Director”. And, I bet there would be no more raises for coaches doing exactly what we hired them to do in the beginning! Win a championship? Good, you keep your job another year!!! Lose, and well…. Don’t plan on planting any trees during the offseason…

  10. 13

    So wearing the houndstooth hats and having a bar named the houndstooth is not constantly bringing up the bear. Glad to see that fans other than AU fans have noticed this refusal to let go of the past also. (See Harley2’s post above)
    The stereo-type of a Bama fan goes far beyond the borders of this state.
    They are viewed as delusional and known to always bring up past accomplishments when they get fired up. 12,12, 12… that’s all they have to cling to.
    I am glad to see things starting to change. In order for Bama to move on, they must concentrate on things that are happening RIGHT NOW, which I think they are doing beginning with last years’ recruiting class. It’s very refreshing to see! And who knows…One day they might actually beat Auburn!

  11. 14

    cmyster: Point taken. Not all fans are bad and EVERY team has it’s share of bad fans. I think the problem most fans in the SEC have with Bama fans is that they are so arrogant. You actually believe that you are still in the top of the football ranks. You put more stock in off field things such as recruiting and you forget that you haven’t done anything significant in terms of winning on the field.
    I just think a little more humility at least until Saban produces something on the field would be better. Ranting and raving over a recruiting class is crazy. And going over board by having Saban as your coach is also crazy. What has he done for you lately? It sure hasn’t been winning.
    Will he bring Bama back? I doubt it, at least not to the expectations that you fans put on him. I don’t think anyone could. The man has flat out recruited no doubt. But his recruits haven’t played a down yet for Bama. Will they pan out? Only time will tell. A little more humility at least until that time comes would serve Bama fans for now.

  12. 15
    Amy 4 Bama

    Harley you’re the biggest liar on the face of the planet. You are an Auburn fan trying to make it seem like all Alabama fans are arrogant just so they can feel justified. You’re probably the same person who posted as a copy cat Hunter Ford!!! I’m an Alabama student and I’ve been to every home game since the year 2006 and I’ve never once heard someone scream “Bear Bryant” at another fan or use his name as a reason predicting a win. You don’t feel it’s an insult to Awwbarn by claiming to be another fan?

  13. 16

    Amy4Bama – “I’m an Alabama student and I’ve been to every home game since the year 2006 and I’ve never once heard someone scream “Bear Bryant” at another fan or use his name as a reason predicting a win.”

    If you’re sitting in the student section, you probably wouldn’t hear this since most of the people around you aren’t even old enough to remember when the Bear actually coached. LOL!

  14. 18

    Harley2(Auturd fan), were you picked on as a kid, I would be willing to bet you are a yellow coward, you post on a Bama website because you would never dream of saying anything to a Bama fans face unless it was a child or an old lady. What has Saban done for us lately? He has only coached Bama a year dumb ass. Saban’s record was better than Big Ear’s his first year and don’t get jealous about us getting the number one recruiting class while big ear’s is out duck hunting.

  15. 19
    UGA in T-town

    I’m a UGA fan LIVING IN T-TOWN!!! The only time you see Bear Bryant is when visit his museum or see his statue. Alabama will always be my second favorite team and any UGA fan will tell you the same because Alabama and UGA’s fan bases are much similar to each other and UGA is the best team in the conference. And Alabama and UGA have always been hated because they are two of the classiest programs with DOMINANT RECORDS! And I think its funny how desperation effects both the spirit and the mind. You got Awbarn fans saying their UGA fans WHEN YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW BAD UGA FANS HATE YOUR ROTTEN GUTS! I would say visit some of our message boards for proof but ever since Coach Richt STARTED STOMPING TUBBERVILLES ASS YA’LL SEEMED TO HAVE FALLEN OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. But now ya’ll want to talk shit on Alabama sites because you finally started beating them. It didn’t take much for UGA to put you in your place and it won’t be long before ALabama does too. In short ALABAMA FANS ARENT HALF AS BAD AS YOU LITTLE CRYBABY FOOLS ARE!

    GO DAWGS! See you Awbarn tools in your shithole town for blowout number 3!!!

  16. 20

    Since when does Georgia and Alabama have classy fanbases? They tie for second place just below LSU for the most classless, arrogant, and redneck fans on the planet.

  17. 21
    Jaywall's Daddy

    Jaywall, what’s worse, a fan base obsessing over their most legendary coaching figure, or a fan base AUbsessing over their arch-rivals team?

    What’s worse?

  18. 22
    Eagle82's Daddy

    Eagle82, API ranks first among the most jealous, envious, and inferior football teams which leads to their classless post game celebrations. API also ranks first among the biggest redneck colleges in all of America!


  19. 23
    Bama Fan in NYC

    The girl posing as “Hunter Ford” and Harley2 is none other than the girl famously known as username: Shane is a blogger!

  20. 24

    Sorry, Cappie, but I can’t turn on the Finebaum show (and why I ever do, I don’t know – he sucks) without some bammerhoid calling in to tell some DA story about “the Bahr.” It’s nauseating.

    If you indeed don’t care about his so-called “legacy,” then that makes you a rare UAT fan, indeed. Maybe you ought to remind the goobs who show up in houndstooth at your football games. Or tell the AD it’s time to stop showing that worn out video of him before games. If you want to blame anyone for this large houndstooth shadow, blame your own university.

  21. 25

    Not obsessing over your little team buddy. I’m merely over here enjoying my bragging rights that AU has gone out and won ON THE FIELD for the past 6 years! It’s the offseason and that’s what the Iron Bowl is for – BRAGGING RIGHTS! You muct have forgotten that since it’s been so long since UA actually won one. LOL! It’s a great time to be an AU fan!

    As far as GA is concerned. I ahve never had a bad experience with any of their fans and I actually pull for GA since they are in the Eastern Division. And as far as that goes, I don’t have any specific problem with Saban or UA’s players either… it’s the Bama fanbase that makes it impossible to root for UA.

  22. 26

    for all you ignorant bama fans especially Amy 4 bama. you prove my case for me about how you really are. I do not have to say anything. I am an UGA fan. Always have been always will be. Auburn is one of our biggest rivals can’t stand them. Don’t care what you think about me. I know what was said to me at the game by bama fans. I also know you threw cups on the field when our guys caught the winning td pass. You can try and smooth it over all you want but bottom line is you have more classless fans than anyone else. And you are very ridiculous with your predictions and thoughts. As I said before If my team were as bad as bama. I would have a little more humility in how I talk to others. Especially when the others are the ones handing your ass to you week in and week out.

  23. 27

    One more thing to add, I always see you guys on here telling other fans that they are obsessed with Bama. All of you saying that I am an Auburn fan, who are you obsessed with? Think about it. But then again, probably way over your head.

  24. 28
    Shane is a BLOGGER

    Amy4Bama, I too attend games in the student section at Tuberville/Dennie Stadium since 2006. The real reason you do not hear Bear Bryant’s name is because you are too busy flashing old alumni and popping tops. Your parents would be ashamed. Straighten up or SHUT UP!


  25. 30

    Harley, sell your lying bullshit elsewhere.

    You’re not a Georgia fan, you’re an Auburn fan posing as one, just to make it seem like other fans agree with the shit you guys spew out. You use the cup throwing excuse, when your fraternity students (Auburn) threw them at the USF players after they won in overtime last season too. You haven’t forgotten that have you?

    You’re an Auburn fan. No one’s buying your BS. Go to an LSU board and pose as an Arkansas fan, because all you’re doing here is making yourself look like a bigger lying idiot than you already are.

    Liars go to hell.

  26. 31
    Amy 4 Bama

    Another classless remark from another guy who can’t get a girlfriend!! If you attended games at UA in the student section, you’d never consider ever going back to an Awwbarn game ever again!!

  27. 32
    J W


  28. 34
    E.G White

    Damn, I wonder where all these bigmouthed Barner and Dawg tards are now? Haven’t seen a damn one of them post ever since the ‘Blackout’ and the 36-0 beatdowns. Wonder why? LMFAO! RTR!

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