Bear Bryant's coaching tree
Bear Bryant is one of the greatest coaches of all time, regardless of sport or level of play. His impact is still seen today around the college football ranks.
Bryant, more than 30 years after he last coached a game, has one of the most expansive coaching trees in the game, with several coaches still at it at the college level.
With a coaching career that spanned nearly 40 years and hundreds of players and coaches falling under the Bear’s wing during that time, it would be near impossible to list off every coach that can trace his roots back to Bryant. Instead, we’ll give you some of the biggest names in Bryant’s coaching tree.
Bryant himself comes from Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne’s coaching tree, along with Green Bay Packers legend Vince Lombardi. In all, more than 40 of Bryant’s former players and assistants ended up with head coaching jobs at either the college or professional levels. Let’s take a look at some of the prominent coaches Bryant himself helped spawn.
These are just coaches that Bryant himself either had on his staff or as an assistant. If you go farther down the branches of Bear’s tree, you’ll find names like Mark Richt, Phillip Fulmer and Frank Beamer.
- Paul Dietzel — offensive line coach at Kentucky, 1951-52; 109–95–5 record as college head coach (LSU, Army, South Carolina); won 1958 national title at LSU; won two SEC titles and one ACC title
- Pat Dye — linebackers coach at Alabama, 1965-73; 153–62–5 record as college head coach (East Carolina, Wyoming, Auburn); won four SEC titles and three SEC Coach of the Year awards at Auburn
- Danny Ford — offensive line coach at Alabama, 1973; also played under Bryant at Alabama, 1967-69; 122-59-5 record as college coach (Clemson, Arkansas); won 1981 national title at Clemson
- David Cutcliffe — student assistant at Alabama, 1975; 84-77 record as college head coach (Ole Miss, Duke); assistant coach at Tennessee (1982-98, 2006-07)
- Jerry Claiborne — halfback at Kentucky, 1946, 1948-49; 179–122–8 record as college head coach (Virginia Tech, Maryland, Kentucky); four conference Coach of the Year Awards (3 ACC, 1 SEC)
- Charles McLendon — played at Kentucky, 1951-52; 137–59–7 record as college head coach (LSU); won one SEC title and two SEC Coach of the Year awards
- Gene Stallings — assistant at Alabama, 1958-64; played under Bryant at Texas A&M, 1954-56; 97-61-2 record as college head coach (Texas A&M, Alabama), 23-34-1 record as NFL coach (St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals); won 1992 national title as Alabama head coach
- Howard Schnellenberger —offensive coordinator at Alabama, 1961-65; played under Bryant at Kentucky, 1952-53; 158-151-3 record as college head coach (Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma, Florida Atlantic); 4-13 record as NFL coach (Indianapolis Colts); won 1983 national title at Miami (Fla.)
- Jackie Sherrill — fullback and linebacker at Alabama, 1962-65; graduate assistant at Alabama, 1966-67; 180-120-4 record as college head coach (Washington State, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Mississippi State); won three Southwest Conference Coach of the Year awards at Texas A&M
- Mike Riley — defensive back at Alabama, 1971-74; 93-80 record as college head coach (Oregon State); 14-34 record as NFL head coach (San Diego Chargers); recently hired as head coach at Nebraska; won Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2008
- Sylvester Croom — center at Alabama, 1972-74; won three SEC titles as player; assistant under Bryant at Alabama, 1976-86; Mississippi State head coach, 2004-08; first black head coach in SEC history; currently an NFL running backs coach; won SEC Coach of the Year in 2007
- Joey Jones — wide receiver at Alabama, 1973-76; 40-35 record as college head coach (Birmingham-Southern, South Alabama)