Tuesday, January 29, 2013

One Month- Dark Side of the Moon

2013 is already a month down. Thankfully, the Mayans were off and it is always great to be alive!

I am about to go 'unplugged' for a month as part of my year long plan/resolutions for 2013.

Instead of one big yearly goal- I have decided to pick 1 month challenges that will deepen my walk with God, help me grow spiritually, mentally, physically, socially......

I always want to be a better husband, dad, coach....etc

I have to count January as a success. I did two specific things that I enjoyed tremendously.

The First THING was an experiment with a "Whole Food 30 Day Diet"- not for weight loss, but just a desire to eat healthy. Inspired and officiated by my daughter, Melissa, I have gone 30 days of eating no processed food. That includes no bread, dairy, legumes, sugar- and I feel really good about that.

I want to plug her blog on the subject: Finding The Whole Truth Blog by Melissa Mathews

We discovered some great 'superfoods' in the process- Bok Choi became one of our favorite staples...especially in soup made up of tomato sauce with no artificial ingredients or sweeteners.
Also we had a spaghetti made with spaghetti squash that was just as good as the regular dish without the bloated feeling you have afterward.

As many of you know who followed my weight loss program- I do not weigh in during the month of January- so I don't think I have dropped weight on this diet, but my clothes feel a bit looser and my guess is that I lost my holiday binge weight.

The 2nd THING was completing my month long tribute yo Coach Bryant- that was a lot of fun for me!

Now February approaches and here is what I am going to do and is why you will not hear from me for the rest of the month!

My 2 Goals in Feb. is a  FACEBOOK FAST (all social media) and strict adherence to MY FITNESS PAL APP for 1 month.

So beginning 2/1/13 I will not log onto facebook, twitter, linked-in, or my blog. It is all going dark.

I want to replace it with some quality time in prayer and Bible Study.

The motto is: "In February, No facebook... so I can better seek HIS FACE and read HIS BOOK."

I will still have to check e-mail for work reasons and that is the best way to contact me:

I will return in March to write about the process and I am under no illusion that the world will miss me. It will go on without even a glance.

By the way- I don't have an issue with social media- it is a a valid stream of the marketplace of culture. I believe we should engage all of these venues in living out the message of hope in Christ because of what He has done and not what we have done.

Blessings to you and hope to update on March 1.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Coach Paul Bear Bryant Sept. 11, 1913 - Jan. 26, 1983

Coach Bryant passed away 30 years ago today. I have dedicated this month to recording some of my personal memories of growing up in the State that he loved and my high honor of being a member of his last football season. The following is what some others have sent in. Please do not hesitate to leave comments in the comment box at the end of this post.

A Tribute to Coach Bryant

" I am an alumnus of the University of Alabama, the husband for almost 30 years of my high school sweetheart, the father of 6 children that have all attended the University of Alabama where five are presently attending, an ordained minister and founder of Jeremiah Castille Foundation. I name these blessings that God has given me because of the opportunities they have afforded me. Who would have thought a young man growing up in Phenix City, Alabama and living in a dysfunctional home with alcoholic parents that had a 4th grade education, could accomplish so much?  The first thing I would say is with God all things are possible! God had a plan for my life and Coach Paul W. Bryant was a big part of that plan. A saying at the University of Alabama among the football players is "Built by Bama". I really like it, but for me the saying is "Built by Bryant". This is true for me and all of the players he coached. Attending the University of Alabama in 1979 and spending four years under Coach Bryant instilled in me four words which I live by today.

1) Leadership
2) Discipline
3) Relationships
4) Opportunity 

What I have learned from the great man named Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, is that life is about leading, being a leader and developing leaders, disciplining ourselves on a daily basis, building relationships to enrich our lives and sharpen us, and valuing opportunities that come from the relationships we develop. I am truly a blessed man today because leadership, discipline, relationships and opportunities are principles that I learned from Coach Bryant. I was truly "Built by Bryant". "

Roll Tide and God Bless
Jeremiah Castille

Story from Darryl White

In 1982, we were playing Tn. And I was back to return a punt on their ten yard line.
After catching the punt I fumbled when the second Tn player hit me.
The ball was batted around and after two different piles, I ended up with the ball on the half yard line.
Running off the field I had to run right by Coach Bryant. He assuredly said to me as he patted me on the side, don't worry about it.
He knew I didn't need to be yelled at and the way he handled it gave me confidence as I went back out to catch other punts.

Story from David Hannah

"The single story that stands out to me is the (now famous 1972 speech- 'We have them right where we want them') halftime speech against Tennessee. I was expecting us to really get chewed out. But Coach Bryant came in and said, 'Defense, we need you to get us the football and Offense, WHEN you get the ball, you need to score.' It was the way he said it- WHEN you get the football. He believed it was going to happen that way, we believed him, and it happened! I will never forget that!"

(Even though Alabama trailed at halftime, they rallied with two late 4th quarter touchdowns to win 17-10)

Story from Ernest Carroll

"Coach Bryant loved Paul Fields and he would come over and kid with him before practice quite often. Paul and I were throwing footballs during warm-up and I could see Coach Bryant coming from 30 yards out. He was making a bee-line towards Paul and I already knew there was a problem. 

Sure enough, as he stood next to Paul, I threw the ball and I hit Coach Bryant right in the head. His head snapped back and it knocked his hat sideways.

He adjusted his hat and just glared at me. Shook his head and walked away."

Ernest Carroll (26) and Scott Connell (52)

Story from Scott Connell

"It was the Fall of 1982 and the weather was turning cooler.  The rain was steady all day and we had practice.  Sometimes it was nice when it rained in the summer and you stayed cool in your bulky pads.  Sometimes it simply sucked and you would rather be anywhere but football practice.  It was a dreary day and we were practicing kickoff coverage.  If memory serves, Coach Rutledge was running the drill and we kept doing it over and over.  It was just like running gassers.  We were on the "old" grass field right next to Coach Bryant's tower and the Turf field.  The water had pooled into a long puddle in between the grass and turf fields.  Back then I was somewhat fearless, immature and always starting something.  Anyway, I was exhausted and slogging back from Kicking Team coverage.  Running alongside the puddle, I decided to dive and slide to cool off and to lift my spirits.  This wasn't your ordinary slip 'n' slide.  It was a slide on steroids.  The water was about 6 to 8 inches deep and the bottom was soft, cushioned Bermuda grass.  When you hit it at full speed, you would easily slide about 30 yards.  I immediately looked at Coach Rutledge and he was smiling.  So I decided to hit the slide even faster next time.  As I hit the water and commenced hydroplaning, I heard about 5 other splashes and realized some teammates were joining in.  Time and concussions have erased some memory, but the others were very likely Jay Mathews, Lee Clements, Ernest Carroll, Billy Getchell, Curtis Wofford and the Lombardo brothers.  Before the drill was over, the entire kicking team was diving.  The rest of the team was scrimmaging on the turf and held Coach Bryant's focus.  Well, near the end of our escapade, I looked at Coach Rutledge again and he was pointing to THE TOWER.  I didn't turn my head but I quickly cut my eyes up at the tower, and to my complete surprise Coach Bryant was grinning!  I still see that grinning, weathered face in my dreams!

Another story involves the first time I saw Coach Bryant as a player.  The team was gathering in the large meeting room in the Coliseum for the first team meeting of 1982.  The room was large and had theater-style seating.  As I walked into the room, I was astonished at a sea of men with thick necks and intense eyes.  I was a little unnerved.  All the scholarship guys and upperclassmen were sitting in the seats.  The freshmen and walk-ons had to sit up front or in the floor.  The room was rowdy as players were jawing each other.  I sat in the floor and extended my legs straight out, crossed at the ankles.  Someone had gotten my attention and so I leaned backwards and propped on my hands with my head turned away from the entrance.  In a nanosecond, the room went silent.  As I was turning my head to see what was happening, I felt something kick my feet.  At that same moment I heard a gruff voice exclaim "dammit" and my eyes followed these huge feet up these long legs to see this huge man named Paul "Bear" Bryant.  Man, he was huge and intimidating!  Needless to say, I pulled my legs in and sat as motionless as possible, mesmerized by every word that came out of Coach Bryant's mouth.

As a walk-on Strong Safety, I played on the Scout teams.  It was infrequent that we were able to go full speed against the starting Running Backs and rarely in drills.  Many times we had to don some protective gear that we called 'Zoot Suits'.  Picture the old rolled and tufted baseball catcher chest protector, except it also covered the front of your arms and legs.  The idea was that we would not get hurt as we took on the lead blocker in an Option play.  I have to say it did not help all that much when you had to absorb the block of one freight train named Ricky Moore!  Coach Bruce Arians was usually in charge of this drill.  One day the running backs were simply not making Coach Arians happy, so he told the defensive guys to take off the Zoot Suits and go full speed.  

As a Scout guy, you live for these moments to possibly shine.  My time came to take on the lead blocker and I decided I was going to try to level the guy.  My memory is not clear but the lead blocker was either Linnie Patrick, Mickey Guinyard or Don Horstead. I was able to get a good hit on the blocker and knock him back on his heels which put him in the way of the running back who took the pitch (either Jeff Fagan or Joe Carter).  As luck would have it, the running back was going to cut inside but had to cut outside to avoid the lead blocker and he ran into me chest first.  Needless to say it was quite a collision and the running back did not get up immediately.  The next thing I remember was Coach Arians screaming in my face about hitting his running backs.  He kicked me out of the drill and, as I walked to the side, I heard Coach Bryant saying something from the tower via his megaphone.  The voice was growling and hard to decipher but sounded something like "Watch whutchoo doin...."  Then I distinctly heard him say "Turd".  Some would think this just awful, but for Coach Bryant to notice you and comment on you was an extreme source of pride.  After practice Coach Murray Legg told me it was a good hit and not to worry about Arians.  He said he was pissed because I embarrassed his backs."

Memory From John Ferry- Sportscaster- Radio Announcer- Sports Journalist

John did a lot of Alabama basketball/baseball as well
"January 26, 1983 began slowly for a news and sports broadcaster based in Tuscaloosa.

In a time when I traveled often, I would not be away on this day.

I knew that coach Paul Bryant had been hospitalized earlier in the week, but it was hardly the first time that had happened. I knew he had quite a few visitors, so I wasn't much concerned.

After lunch I made a routine check at Alabama's athletic department. It was then that I encountered a secretary who was close to tears.

 I asked her what was wrong and she said "He's much worse."I wasn't far from DCH Hospital, so I quickly made it over there.

When I walked in I saw a person with something typed on a page. I could see enough of it to make out the words "At 12:24 p.m......"

I believed I knew what that meant, and I was right.
I called my radio station (WACT) and told them what I had, making arrangements to get on the air soon.
There was a media gathering at DCH, and the announcement was made that coach Bryant had passed away.
What followed were several days of filling requests from media outlets around the country, seeking audio material on what was to be a national sports story.

Many college sports notables came to Tuscaloosa that week, for the funeral at First United Methodist Church, then to travel to the burial at Elmwood cemetery in Birmingham. Many thousands turned out in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, and along the highway between the cities.

One night when I visited the funeral home in Tuscaloosa, I was surprised to find I was about the only person there.

Coach Bryant was good to me. He called me by my first name. Even rode me around practice on his golf cart one day during the 1982 season.

I got to cover him in three heartbreaking losses to Notre Dame, but I also had the 1979 Sugar Bowl against Penn State, which brought a national championship to Alabama.

For several seasons I spotted players for the Alabama radio network crew, did the post-game report, which included interviews with both teams plus a statistical rundown (and this aired within an hour of the end of games), and I did play-by-play for Bama's junior varsity games."

Some posters wanted to remain anonymous:

" Not many people know this. But Coach Bryant insisted that Vanderbilt and Alabama split their home and home game receipts evenly, even though it meant a revenue loss for Alabama. He wanted Vanderbilt to share in the revenue and profit as an SEC school."

" Coach Bryant gave in so many ways without notice. He supported the Alabama FCA program, he donated to John Croyle's Big Oak Ranch, he took care of faculty, he set up a scholarship fund for all of his former players to send their children to Alabama tuition free. He gave more than he received."

"My favorite Bear story was told by his driver, Billy Varner. Billy would caddy for Coach Bryant on occasion in charity golf tournaments. The rounds almost always went the same. Coach Bryant would slice, hook, chili-dip almost every shot. He lost golf balls in the woods almost the whole round. Until he got to the 18th green where the patrons were waiting on him. He would stand on the 18 tee box- hit it right down the middle, hit the green in regulation, and make the birdie to the roar of the gallery. When it was always needed- that man was a winner."

" Coach Bryant was digging around in his desk drawers about 2 weeks after the famous 315 win versus Auburn. He kind of knocked up against the desk and out rolled a 4 inch stack of tickets from that game bound by a rubber band. He called in secretary Linda Knowles and when she saw them went into shock. There is no telling how much those tickets were worth. He mumbled a curse under his breath and broke into a laugh."

"In 1970, Coach Bryant brought in Wilber Jackson as Alabama's first African American scholarship player. The following season, John Mitchell, a Ju-Co transfer became the first black player to play for the Tide. By 1973- a third of Alabama's roster were black."

"My whole family cried when he died. And we still cry about it from time to time."

 Stories from Dennis Holt 

"As an elder in a large church in the Chicago area, I was recently asked why I have a painting of Coach Bryant hanging in my living room instead of one of Christ. My simple response made them stare and then laugh out loud: 'I believe Jesus walked on water, but I saw Coach Bryant do it.' " 

"The last man to visit coach in the hospital before he died was Dr. Allan Watson, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa (now deceased). My story is about Dr. Watson. He was the most devoted Tide fan - football, basketball, all sports. He never missed a football game - even if it meant he had to fly back Saturday night late to preach the next morning...and oftentimes, he could barely speak from his yelling the previous night. One Sunday morning, the church's leader of the Women's Missionary Society reminded him that Calvary was hosting the area district annual meeting of the WMS on Tuesday night. There would be hundreds of women from all churches there. He said he could not be there; he would be attending the Crimson Tide men's basketball game and Coach Bryant for the only time in memory was going to be the half time guest. After much insistence about how that would be perceived, he finally agreed to be there. On Tuesday night, the crowd gathered at the old church and he was there, sitting beside the only other male in the sanctuary. The district leader stood and welcomed the hundreds of women to the meeting, then called on the "host pastor" to give the opening prayer. All stood and bowed heads....and waited in silence.......a long silence. Hearing nothing, the lady spoke again, "now we will have the host pastor lead us in prayer." Nothing. Finally the guy standing next to Dr. Watson saw that he had ear plugs in his ears and was listening to the Bryant interview. He punched him in the side and said, "pray dummy." Dr. Watson remembered it as the most sincere and humble prayer of his life....oh my, the effect that Coach Bryant had on us all....."

Tribute from Russ Wood

"I was very blessed to play the last 4 yrs for coach Bryant. So yes it is a very sad day for a lot of former players also. I got to take my son to Memphis on a recruting trip this year and stand on the field of the Liberty Bowl and walk in the dressing room where Coach Bryant hugged all of us with tears in his eyes. It was the first time I had been back since 1982. It was a very emotional that week in Memphis(30 years ago) and the game came down to last minute, but thankfully, we were able to win and I helped carry him off the field. I was a honorary pall bearer for him as well. So, yes- it is still a very important day to a lot of people and I was blessed to be a part of it like my team mates. We always went to squad Sunday at Calvary Baptist- no excuses you had to go- and Coach Bryant would always sit with the team. It was great for a lot of us that were lost back then."

Dennis Responded to Russ Wood:

"Thanks so much Russ. I worked at Calvary in those early years and helped start FCA at Bama and start Squad Sunday. Your story reminded me of a fun story. I went to Coach's office many times while on campus. One of those times was to get his input for who he believed to be the athlete who best exemplified a strong faith in his daily and sports life. One of those times I entered his office and stood in front of his desk. He was holding up in front of his face the latest issue of Playboy. I said nothing. From behind the mag, he said, "is that you Dennis?" I responded yes. He lowered the mag and gave that incredible smile and said, "Oh don't worry; I don't have a subscription to Playboy; I don't even read the articles; and by the time I get this edition, the ass't coaches have already removed all the photos..not sure what they do with them." It was the fall edition with the list of pre-season All-Americans. We both laughed....one of the few times I ever saw him laugh out loud....... And as you may know, Russ, he was a leader in his Methodist church in Tuscaloosa I believe."

Dr. James Bridges; SPHR, • Does not seem like Coach Bryant has been gone 30 years. I attended his graveside service in Birmingham (Elmwood). I remember the crowd and dignitaries that were there, something I will always remember and glad I went. Coach Bryant bought something positive to Alabama that we needed during those years

 Ed Clark

"I also skipped a class to watch the procession on University Blvd. It was eerie and, of course, sad. But it was also wonderful at the same time. So many people putting their lives on hold to celebrate someone who brought tremendous success and joy to an entire country."


"I still remember him pulling out the poem out of his wallet and reading it to us. It was the clearest I ever heard his voice and you could tell it meant a lot to him"

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it or I can use it for good.
What I do today is very important because I’m exchanging a day of my life for it.
When tomorrow comes this day will be gone, forever,
Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.
I want it to be gain, not loss, good, not evil,
Success, not failure, in order that I shall not
forget the price I paid for it.

I want to personally thank all who participated. I heard from a number of folks who didn't say anything but 'enjoyed the blog'.

We ended up having close to 3,000 page views for the month, making it the single best month ever on this website!

By the way- the following is my biggest hit on my jayopsis you tube channel

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Coach Bryant- Closing the Series

The following is a combination of a few vintage clips.

Look for my final post on this series Sat. Jan 26 and I really appreciate all of the input and communication.

In many ways, I am the least to try to shine a light of memory on the great man- but my admiration of him has NEVER dimmed, even all of these years later.

Tribute Video

According to Wikipedia- Honors and Awards:

Head coaching record

In his 38 seasons as a head coach, Bryant had 37 winning seasons and participated in a total of 29 postseason bowl games, including 24 consecutively at Alabama. He won 15 bowl games, including eight Sugar Bowls.
Maryland Terrapins (Southern Conference) (1945)
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1946–1953)
1947Kentucky8–32–3T–9thW Great Lakes
1949Kentucky9–34–12ndL Orange11
1950Kentucky11–15–11stW Sugar77
1951Kentucky8–43–35thW Cotton1715
Texas A&M Aggies (Southwest Athletic Conference) (1954–1957)
1954Texas A&M1–90–67th
1955Texas A&M7–2–14–1–12nd1417
1956Texas A&M9–0–16–01st55
1957Texas A&M8–34–23rdL Gator109
Texas A&M:25–14–214–9–1
Alabama Crimson Tide (Southeastern Conference) (1958–1982)
1959Alabama7–2–24–1–24thL Liberty1310
1960Alabama8–1–25–1–13rdT Bluebonnet109
1961Alabama11–07–0T–1stW Sugar11
1962Alabama10–16–12ndW Orange55
1963Alabama9–26–12ndW Sugar98
1964Alabama10–18–01stL Orange1*1
1965Alabama9–1–16–1–11stW Orange41
1966Alabama11–06–0T–1stW Sugar33
1967Alabama8–2–15–12ndL Cotton78
1968Alabama8–34–2T–3rdL Gator1217
1969Alabama6–52–48thL Liberty
1970Alabama6–5–13–4T–7thT Bluebonnet
1971Alabama11–17–01stL Orange24
1972Alabama10–27–11stL Cotton47
1973Alabama11–18–01stL Sugar1*4
1974Alabama11–16–01stL Orange25
1975Alabama11–16–01stW Sugar33
1976Alabama9–35–23rdW Liberty911
1977Alabama11–17–01stW Sugar22
1978Alabama11–16–01stW Sugar21
1979Alabama12–06–01stW Sugar11
1980Alabama10–25–1T–2ndW Cotton66
1981Alabama9–2–16–0T–1stL Cotton67
1982Alabama8–44–2T–3rdW Liberty17
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches' Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.