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How Ten Days in Hell with Bear Bryant Forged a Champion Team at Texas A&M

by Jim Dent

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-312-19293-2
Publisher: St. Martin's

Legendary college football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant comes alive in this rollicking story of his time at Texas A&M during the mid-1950s. Dent, a Texas journalist (King of the Cowboys, not reviewed), focuses on Bryant’s first-year attempt at putting together the team and pays particular attention to the grueling training camp held in Junction, Tex., during the first weeks of September 1954. The boys at this camp played under extreme conditions and most would leave after succumbing to Bryant’s intensity or suffering bad injuries and near-death exhaustion. But what The Junction Boys tries to show is how Bryant and his training regime, despite all types of obstacles, did succeed, in just a few years, in creating not only a winning team (including an undefeated season in 1956), but a greatness in all the Aggies that would work to their advantage even after their playing days were over. The reader may have trouble keeping track of who’s who among the many players, and Bear Bryant himself is presented rather one- dimensionally as unrelentingly tough, despite some attempts to show his kind and caring side. What the book does convey is Bryant’s overwhelming passion for the sport, for the job of coaching, and for his team. Many of his famous quotes appear at the head of the various chapters and throughout the narrative, including “What matters . . . is not the size of the dog in the fight, but of the fight in the dog” and “A tie is like kissing your sister.” College football enthusiasts will enjoy reading about Bear Bryant and about a time when the sport was such a big part in the lives of many Americans, especially poor Texans. As one player explains why he doesn’t quit: “For one thing, I ain’t got the guts to face him [Bryant]. Second, I ain’t got the energy to walk to the bus station. Third, they’d throw me out of Texas.” (8 pages b&w photos, not seen)