What a great story, and what a great lead-in to another installment of a historic series between two of college football’s most recognizable programs. Jay Paterno, Joe’s son and the current QB coach at Penn State, shares his remembrance of legendary Alabama football coach, Paul W. “Bear” Bryant:
One of my biggest coaching regrets is that I never got to meet Coach Bryant. But, back in eighth grade, he wrote me a letter. It was National Library Week in February 1982, and our librarian at Park Forest Junior High School asked us to write to a celebrity and request a reply. At that age I wanted to coach football, so I picked Coach Bryant.
To a young man he had never met, he responded with open and honest words:
Unfortunately when I was in school I did not do much reading in the Library. This may be the reason I have such a difficult time now in more ways than one.
I do highly recommend that students go to the Library and fully cooperate with the Librarians. Wish I had not just sat there looking at a book and thinking about football.
Give my best to your father. Hope he is having a very pleasant spring.
Paul W. Bryant
A year later Bryant was dead of a heart attack, and Jay’s father was being awarded his first consensus National Championship. But along the way of that final 1982 season, Alabama handed Penn State its only loss of the year.
The two programs face off again in Tuscaloosa this Saturday evening at 6:00 pm CDT.