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Chasing the Bear

How Bear Bryant and Nick Saban Made Alabama the Greatest College Football Program of All Time
Narrated by: Dan Woren
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Categories: Sports, Football
5 out of 5 stars (52 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A dual biography of two coaching legends - Bear Bryant and Nick Saban - who built the Alabama Crimson Tide into a true football dynasty.  

Both Bear Bryant and Nick Saban are undeniable kings of college football, two coaches at Alabama who have each won more national championships - six apiece - than anyone else in the history of the game. Chasing the Bear examines how they did it, revealing along the way their similarities in style, background, football philosophy, and recruiting methods, while providing listeners a rare inside look at two of the greatest leaders in the history of sports.

Bear Bryant and Nick Saban never met, but they have more in common than either of them realize. Both grew up in small towns - Bryant in Moro Bottom, Arkansas, a dot on the map, and Saban from Monongah, West Virginia, population 500. As a child, Saban pumped gas at his father's service station, washing and waxing cars and doing anything he could to help the business. Bryant's father suffered from multiple physical ailments, which forced Bryant to work to keep the family farm going. Both men knew the value of hard work from the time they were young boys, and both understood that there were no shortcuts to success. But both dreamed of escaping their hometowns, and both used football as the means to do so.

Separated by two generations, Bear Bryant and Nick Saban are mythic figures linked by a school, a town, and a barroom debate centering on one question: Which is the greatest college coach of all time?

©2019 Lars Anderson (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"This isn't just a great football book; this is a beautiful piece of literature that reveals the secrets of the two greatest college football coaches of all-time. The parallels are stunning. Lars Anderson has given us another narrative masterpiece here." (Rick Bragg, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author of My Southern Journey)

"I covered Bear Bryant and I know Nick Saban. I'm telling you: Lars Anderson, in his usual lyrical style, has achieved something remarkable in these pages: He's shed new light on these coaching giants. A must read for anyone who wants to know about leadership, the molding of character, and what it takes to succeed in life. A brilliant book that transcends sports." (Paul Finebaum, ESPN Radio host and New York Times best-selling author of My Conference Can Beat Your Conference)

"Bear Bryant shaped me as a coach and Nick Saban has been a friend for years. No writer in the country could have written this book with the perspective and grace of Lars. Every football coach in America - and every parent - will learn about what it takes to win in these pages." (Bruce Arians, two-time AP NFL coach of the year and current head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Half great half fair

This book was so well researched and had a lot of interesting facts and stories. I'm not an Alabama fan as much as I am just a college football fan. I loved learning about Bryant and found myself wishing the chapters about him lasted longer. The chapters about Saban would normally be my main interest because Bryant died before I was born. But if you like college football you'll at minimum enjoy 50% of this book. Which is not bad when you think about it. If you're an Alabama fan you'll say this is the best book ever written.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Alabama fans & fans of winners will love this one!

Loved, loved, loved this one! If you are an Alabama fan you will love it too. But I think any fan of college football or of winners will love this one too.

Many, including me, have said there are many similarities between Bear Bryant and Nick Saban. I never knew how many parallels until listening to this book. I learned many things about both. The way the book is written describes the parallels very well. They aren't explicitly stated but they are obvious when you hear them. It was an eye opening and enjoyable journey for me and my family on the way to and then back home from Tuscaloosa for an Alabama football game.

Get this one today! You will be glad you did.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Must read for a Bama fan, but maybe READ and don’t listen

I’m a 31 year old Alabama fan which means I have absolutely no context from my own memory to analyze the career of Bear Bryant. I grew up knowing about houndstooth and BRYANT Denny Stadium, and the record number of wins and national titles. I always wanted to know more and this helped in many ways.

One thing I believe Bama fans will be disappointed with is the narration. His voice is good and he’s easy to listen to, but there are names that bounce back and forth between accurate and inaccurate pronounciation. Greg MACKelroy (correct emphasis) becomes Mc ELLroy (incorrect) then back again. At one point they even said “Nick SaBAHN” (!!!)
Also, considering one of Bryant’s defining features was his booming, gravely voice, I can imagine older fans would not feel the narration did it justice while imitating him during his quotes.

My all time favorite book is Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer by Warren St John where he follows the Bama RV tailgate crowd for a year. There was a lot of info about the Bear that I gained from that book, and many of the anecdotes were pure crossover in Chasing the Bear. Many times throughout this book I already knew how the anecdote would end because of reading Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer.

Again, I have no personal memories of the Bear’s era, but I did think this book glossed over issues of race. Everything I had heard previously painted a picture of an Alabama team that was late to integration and only recruited black players after being embarrassed by USC and realizing they had fallen so far behind competitively. Anderson’s book made it seem like Bryant was completely fine with black players all along and had no blame or responsibility for the continued segregation in the late sixties. At this point it’s impossible to see exactly what his feelings were at the time, it the fact that such different narratives exist makes me wonder if this is some revisionist history.

Overall, it’s a nice story arc that serves to compare these two legends and show just how similar they were in certain ways, despite completely different personalities. Reliving the loss to Clemson this soon was a bit rough, but it did give insight into “the process” and what we can expect the rest of this season.

Worth your time if you’re a college football fan, must read if you’re a Bama fan, but don’t buy into every historical detail as gospel. Make your own judgements.