Big 12: Paul 'Bear' Bryant

Texas A&M AdvoCare V100 bowl facts

December, 28, 2009
12/28/09
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Here's a look at a few notable factoids about Texas A&M and its bowl history as the Aggies prepare for the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (ESPN2, 5 p.m. ET) later today in Shreveport, La.

Bowl record: 13-17

Current bowl streak: Lost 3.

Most memorable bowl victory: 1922 Dixie Classic, Texas A&M 22, Centre College 14. In the game that gave birth to the Aggies' 12th Man legend, coach Dana X. Bible's team stunned the Praying Colonels of Centre College. The victory over the "Champions of the South" at that time put Texas A&M on the national spotlight as the Aggies scored 22 points against a defense that had allowed only six points previously in the season.

Bitterest bowl loss: 1942 Cotton Bowl, Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21. The Crimson Tide stunned A&M despite gaining just one first down, producing 75 yards and punting 16 times. A&M was its own worst enemy as the Aggies threw seven interceptions and lost five fumbles. Alabama's Jimmy Nelson was the standout with two interceptions, a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 21-yard TD run.

Best individual bowl performance: Curtis Dickey churned through Iowa State's defense for a school bowl-record 276 rushing yards and a touchdown to lead the Aggies to a 28-12 victory over the Cyclones in the 1978 Hall of Fame Bowl.

Record against Georgia: 3-1.

Most memorable game against the Bulldogs: Texas A&M claimed a gritty 6-0 victory over the Bulldogs in Athens in 1954. It was notable because it was the first triumph for coach Paul "Bear" Bryant with A&M and the Aggies' only victory in a 1-9 season.

Common 2009 opponents: Arkansas, Oklahoma State. The Aggies lost to Razorbacks, 47-19, in Arlington, Texas, on Oct. 3, and 36-31 to the Cowboys in College Station on Oct. 10. The Bulldogs lost to the Cowboys, 24-10, in Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 5, and beat the Razorbacks, 52-41, in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sept. 19.

The number: 6. Texas A&M is 6-0 in games that have not be televised this season and 0-6 in games that have been televised.

Brown loved the Crimson Tide as a young fan

December, 21, 2009
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas coach Mack Brown, like many young college football fans in the South who grew up in the 1960s, had a love affair with Paul "Bear" Bryant's Alabama teams.

The Crimson Tide claimed national championships in 1964 and 1965 and came close in 1966, but were denied despite posting an 11-0 record. Brown was taking notice of the program from his home in Cookeville, Tenn.

Brown's grandfather, high school football coach Eddie "Jelly" Watson, helped stoke the passion in Alabama football in his young grandson.

"Alabama was my favorite program growing up," Brown said. "I watched every game."

As a high school senior, Brown was recruited by current Alabama athletic director Mal Moore, who was then an Alabama assistant coach.

"I got to sit in Coach Bryant's office as a 17-year-old," Brown said. "They were playing Missouri in the 1968 Gator Bowl and he asked me if I could visualize myself running back punts for them. That was pretty good stuff for me at the time."

Despite the sway of the Alabama tradition, Brown followed his older brother, Watson, to Vanderbilt where both played football. Brown later transferred to Florida State, where he graduated.

But his interest in Alabama has never diminished. It was one of three programs that were his grandfather's favorite teams, along with Georgia and Texas.

"Coach Bryant and [former Texas] coach Darrell Royal were the Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden of their day," Brown said. "Younger coaches looked up to them. I wanted to play there, coach there."

And that's what makes the Jan. 7 game at the Rose Bowl so special to Brown.

"This is a matchup that excited me," Brown said.

Never too early to look at Nebraska's opener

May, 13, 2009
5/13/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I always kid with my friends in the Nebraska media corps about the all-encompassing nature of their jobs covering Cornhusker football.

The Cornhuskers' traditional excellence, along with the lack of major-league sports competition in the state, makes following Nebraska football a 365-day vocation for most fans in the state.

The Lincoln Journal-Star is feeding that beast by already presenting a series of entertaining video vignettes on the Cornhuskers' approaching schedule. I can't provide a direct link, but the video report is prominently displayed on the Journal-Star's sports page on its Web site.

Journal-Star beat writer Brian Christopherson, columnist Steve Sipple and program host Kent Wolgamott were featured earlier this week with an extensive breakdown of Florida Atlantic,  the Cornhuskers' opponent in their Sept. 5 opener.

The trio talks about veteran FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, who has been competing against Nebraska since his days as an assistant coach under Paul "Bear" Bryant at Alabama in the mid-1960s. Schnellenberger later met up with the Cornhuskers in the 1984 Orange Bowl, a classic game that brought him with a national championship at Miami.

I'm intrigued with this game for a lot of reasons besides Schnellenberger's former games against Nebraska. I remember how he popped off about Texas last year before playing the Longhorns in his opener. Will he treat the Cornhuskers similarly?

Another item of interest from the Journal-Star video came from Sipple, who related that Nebraska coach Bo Pelini chose not to allow his spring game to be televised because he didn't want Florida Atlantic to have an early peek at his spring game.

I'm sure that Pelini got that line of thinking from his coaching mentor, Bob Stoops, who still laments allowing his 2005 spring game at Oklahoma to be telecast. Stoops has maintained that having that spring game widely available gave TCU some advantages that they turned into a stunning 17-10 victory over the Sooners in their season opener several months later.

It was a mark of respect that Pelini didn't want video of his spring game to be out there for the wily Schnellenberger to glean nuggets from over the course of the summer. And I'm sure that Stoops gave him a lot of reasons to not have his game on television.  

All of this is why the Journal-Star's videos are such a good idea.

Because you can never start talking about Nebraska's upcoming football season too soon.

Early morning wake-ups helped A&M build team morale

April, 18, 2009
4/18/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Spring workouts have left Texas A&M players scrambling out of their beds to report for practice well before daylight.

Part of that was designed by A&M coach Mike Sherman to foster commitment in a team that often seemed fractured in route to last season's disappointing 4-8 record.

The bonding from the early-morning workouts has helped, according to junior linebacker/defensive end Von Miller.

"We got together a lot as a team," Miller said. "It was a grind -- the hardest thing anybody on this team has ever went through. But we grew off it and built some chemistry."

Those early-morning workouts might have seemed like a piece of cake to some members of the "The Junction Boys" who were weaned on Paul "Bear" Bryant's difficult training methods. But Sherman said the early workouts served a purpose for his team.

"They learned to set their alarm clocks for 5:40 a.m. and be here on time," Sherman said. "I challenged them. We started the offseason program by saying it wasn't going to be easy and that they needed to exceed what other people are doing because we had to get further faster.

"It was challenging and will continue to be challenging for where we want to get and how fast we want to get there."

Whatever happened to Stoops' big-game coaching magic?

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
1:56
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

There's some interesting banter among pundits about Oklahoma's recent loss in the BCS National Championship Game to Florida.

 
  Doug Benc/Getty Images
  Has 'Big Game Bob' lost his coaching mojo?
It marked Oklahoma's third-straight title game loss and fifth-straight BCS bowl loss. And it has helped continue the erosion from the once-sizable coaching reputation of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

Remember that Stoops won his first national championship in 2000, in only his second season as a head coach. He had unquestioned early success at big games, winning his first eight games against top 10 foes and 11 of his first 12 against top 10 teams.

But some of that magic has seemed to have vanished since Mike Stoops, his fiery brother and coordinator of his early defenses, left Oklahoma for his coaching position at Arizona after the 2003 regular season.

It's prompted some interesting discussion in cyberspace since the Sooners' recent loss.

Peter Bean of Burnt Orange Nation believes that Stoops' coaching magic might be gone, particularly as he considers the Sooners' expected talent losses after this season. Bean notes that since Texas coach Mack Brown claimed his first BCS bowl game at the 2005 Rose Bowl, the Longhorns are 3-0 in BCS games with one national championship and Oklahoma is 0-4 with no national championships. Texas has claimed three of four games against Oklahoma in the bitter rivalry since then.

T. Kyle King of Bulldog Nation offers a contrasting theory, saying that Stoops' recent bowl struggles have come as he developed his own coaching identity rather than leaning on the one he learned from his coaching mentor, Steve Spurrier.

King states that Stoops is is no longer "Big Game Bob" because he is not the same volatile driven coach as he was early in his career when he didn't blink against major opponents, yet often lost his edge against inferior foes. Now, Stoops has evolved into a coach more like most others -- a C.E.O. who wins games he's supposed to but sometimes struggles in tough ones.

King also offers up one other point, putting Stoops' recent bowl-game misery in perspective. Although Stoops is in the midst of losing five-straight BCS bowl games, other coaches have struggled similarly through their careers.

Legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne, who lost seven-straight bowl games between 1987 and 1993, and Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who went 0-7-1 in bowl games between 1967-74, struggled like Stoops in their biggest games at one point in their careers.

Both ended up in the College Football Hall of Fame and are judged among the top 20 coaches in history.

Will Stoops get there? We'll see over the next few years.

But it still might behoove him to start winning some bowl games to get the process started. 

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