There are many great "coaching family trees". Not necessarily having played for a coach but to have been associated with a certain coach. Example: Bear Bryant played for Frank Thomas at Alabama. Frank Thomas played for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. So even the great Bear is part of the immortal Rockne family coaching tree.
There have been many coaches that played for, or were employed by, Bear Bryant. It seems appropriate that here in the Silver Anniversary of the year of his passing we review the current head-coaches who are part of the Bear Bryant coaching tree.
10) Howard Schnellenberger–Florida Atlantic
The oldest and most immersed in Bear history. Tight End in 1952 and '53 at Kentucky for Bryant. Later the offensive coordinator of the 1961 and '64 national title teams at Alabama. Howard won the national championship at Miami in 1983, and was the creator of the Miami dynasty.
9) Phil Fulmer–Tennessee
Fulmer played for Coach Bill Battle at Tennessee in 1970 and '71. Battle played for Bear on the 1961 national championship 'Bama team. Battle was the youngest head coach in the country when hired. His "Fulmer teams" went 21-3. Fulmer won the 1998 national championship for the Vols in the first ever BCS title game.
8) Nick Saban–Alabama
Stay with me here. Saban played defensive back at Kent State for Don James from 1970-72. James was an assistant coach from 1960-65 at Fla. St. for Bill Peterson. Bill Peterson was an assistant at LSU for Paul Dietzel from 1955-59. Dietzel was an assistant coach for Bear Bryant at Kentucky in 1951 and '52. Saban won the 2003 national title at LSU.
7) Gary Pinkel–Missouri
Was a teammate of Nick Saban at Kent State. See #8 for details to connect with Bear.
6) Frank Beamer– Va Tech
Frank was a defensive back at Va Tech for Jerry Claiborne in the 1966-'68 era. The late Claiborne, perhaps the closest of all the family tree members to Bryant, was a halfback in the late 1940s for the Bear at Kentucky and was an assistant coach for him at Kentucky and Texas A&M in the 1950s.
5) Mark Richt–Georgia
Easy one. Played quarterback at Miami for 4 years under Howard Schnellenberger from 1979-'82. See #10 above for Bear connection details.
4) Tommy West–Memphis
Another easy one. Played Tight End at Tennessee for Bill Battle from 1972-'75. See No. 9 above for Bear Bryant connection details.
3) Sylvester Croom–Mississippi State
Like Schnellenberger, Croom actually played for the Bear. He was a Center at Alabama from 1972-'74.
2) Mike Riley– Oregon State
Riley and Croom were teammates at Alabama during their entire careers in Tuscaloosa. Riley was an All-SEC defensive back, playing from 1972-'74.
1) David Cutcliffe–Duke
Cutcliffe was the student assistant to Bear Bryant from 1973-75. David, Croom, and Riley are all close friends, having been there at the same time.
So there you have it. Not necessarily in order of importance, or even in connection strength to Bryant. A listing of ten current head coaches who are part of the Bear Bryant family tree. Ten men to watch, and still see part of the legendary Bear in action.
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