Paul (Bear) Bryant, Alabama's renowned football coach, was never one to confine his activities to the football field. If Bear is richer for that, so is Alabama and so is college football. Bryant recently donated $100,000 in stocks to the university, the annual yield from which will be used for scholarships for handicapped young people and children of former Alabama players. "And they don't have to be A students," said Bryant, who wasn't one himself, adding that he was "glad to be able to give something in return for all the university has given me."
Among the things the university has given Bryant is the opportunity to make commercial hay; that he is a coach who can afford to lay $100,000 on his alma mater is evidence that he is as shrewd in financial matters as he is in football. Bear has a partnership in a highly profitable meat-packing plant, an automobile distributorship ( Bear Bryant Volkswagen), a clothing factory and, with Sonny Werblin, a New York hat company. He is on the board of directors of the meatpacking plant, the First National Bank of Tuscaloosa and the Cotton States Life Insurance Company, and he also has various holdings in securities and real estate.
Put all that with Bryant's football record and it adds up to an uncommon American success story. If you want to know more about it—right from the Bear's mouth—Bryant will be glad to tell you, for $25, plus postage. This latest venture is a 47-minute tape cassette, a first-person narrative as folksy as it is informative. It's called Bear Bryant on Football, but is really Bear Bryant on football, money, life and anything else that happens along. "It's about living football and making a living," Bryant says, and he expects coaches to besiege the Alabama athletic office for copies. The tape may not turn a listener into the best coach in the country, but it will certainly give some insight into one who has been. And maybe still is.
Everybody was scandalized a while back when it came out that the winner of the sacrosanct Soap Box Derby was driving a fixed car—in the gambling sense of fix, not the mechanical. The winning driver's car had been altered at the suggestion of an uncle, who last week was ordered by a judge to donate $2,000 to a Boulder, Colo. boys' club for his part in the affair.
This was shocking enough, but the district attorney's office in Boulder said that apparently six of the top 10 finishers in the race had doctored cars (the boys are supposed to build their own, staying within certain simple rules of construction), and that at least 34 boys had illegal vehicles. Assistant District Attorney Jack Kerner said such charges could not readily be proved, but all indications were that cheating was widespread, and that people built derby cars for competitors on a year-round basis.
"Soap Box Derby officials told us that they had been suspicious of entries from some cities," Kerner said, "because over the years cars from those cities tended to be more professional than those from other areas."
90 YEARS AGO
The Billie Jean King-Bobby Riggs affair is well past us, and the chauvinist male vs. liberated woman theme has been more than amply covered. However, even at this late date it seems a justified contribution to the literature on the subject to mention an article that appeared 90 years ago this month in the Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-Union, a reprint of a story that originally appeared in the Amherst Student. It was titled Why a Girl Cannot Play Tennis, and it said, in part, "The first difficulty is found in grasping the racket. This is due to the fact that in the female hand a layer of adipose tissue makes the palm too rounded to hold the racket firmly."