This is my yearly tribute to the memory of Coach Bryant
These stories fade and change as time goes on.
Coach Bryant told a great memory in his classic documentary, 'Nothin' But a Winner', that featured his old trainer from the Texas A&M days, Charles E. 'Smokey' Harper.
Harper is actually an inductee in the national trainers Hall of Fame.
One internet site lists this story about him:
"He was a character and helped Alabama to many championships. He got his nickname when he was 17, after his high school basketball team (of which he was captain), won the state championship. His hometown held a parade in their honor. He was marching along, smoking a big cigar, proud as punch, when he spotted his Aunt in the crowd. Knowing that he wasn't supposed to be smoking, he stuffed the lit cigar in his shirt pocket. Soon, he was jumping around, as the cigar kept burning in his pocket, and smoke went everywhere. After that, his teammates decided to call him "Smokey," and it stuck with him the rest of his life. His accomplishments include: Captain of his State Championship High School Basketball Team Played Baseball, and was Captain of the Basketball Team at Mercer College Coached Baseball & Basketball at Vanderbilt, taking both teams all the way to the SEC championships Worked for Bear Bryant as a Trainer at Kentucky and Texas A&M, as part of "The Junction City Boys," whose story later became a movie Last, but not least.... He worked with Bear Bryant' s as a Trainer, helping win more than one National Championship, for the juggernaut football program better known as the Alabama Crimson Tide !!! His old school training motto was, "If you're hurt below the waist take a hot shower and if you're hurt above the waist take an aspirin," and he kept a lot of aspirin in his shirt pocket. Smokey was tough old hickory nut from days gone by."
The story I wanted to write about is the one Coach Bryant tells about him bringing Smokey to Tuscaloosa.
Smokey called coach Bryant and asked if he had a job for him. Coach Bryant said, "No, Smokey, I don't have anything."
Smokey tried again, "Coach Bryant, I can only make (some small amount) or it will mess up my retirement check."
Coach Bryant said, "Well, come on then, I can find you something to do for that amount."
When Smokey finally showed up for duty Coach Bryant gave him the orders.
"Smokey", he said, "I know you like to smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. So I want to hire you to go to these coffee shops in town, drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and tell everyone what a helluva coach I am."
Obviously a great punch line.... with a nice spoonful of truth.
In a profession where your success is enhanced or hindered by the conventional talk on the street, it is important to have those who are willing to be a voice of support in a world of naysayers.
I don't know why bad news travels so fast and good news stays under the bushel. But that is the reality.
As an athletics director, I hear constantly from the detractors. Those who feel compelled to come and tell me all that is wrong with a coach or a program. I rarely have anyone who takes the time to come in support, even though my experience has been the supporters outnumber the detractors in most circumstances, but you have to go and find them.
My encouragement is that we always look for the good and publicly side with those who do great jobs for our kids and communities. I don't believe you have to be dishonest about it, and yes there are people who need to be corrected, and even sometimes removed.
But if Coach Bryant knew he could be helped by a champion at the water coolers .... don't we ALL need that support?
This is my yearly post in honor of Coach Bryant. You can find all of the posts here.