In 1907, Alabama and Auburn played to a 6-6 tie in their cross state rivalry game, the "Iron Bowl." The game was played in a sea of red mud, and Bama fought the heavy favorite to a tie, thus earning their now well known moniker, the "Crimson Tide." The University of Alabama had fielded its first football team in the fall of 1892. and it was in that first season that Auburn had beat them 32-22. After that game, Alabama's coach E. B. Beaumont was fired. Caleb Pirtle writes, "Within the hearts of Alabama resided a tradition of winning even before there was a tradition of football. Neither time nor circumstance would change it." And so begins the first of over fifty "moments" detailed in Pirtle's fifty-second book. Each point in time is arrestingly illustrated with original work by Rick Rush, an Alabama alum often hailed as "America's Sports Artist."
Each incident chosen for inclusion in this book stands alone for the casual reader who might let the book drop open and read a few pages. Collectively, they tell the story of college football in the United States from its infancy in New England right up through the most recent moments of the 2010 BCS Championship game. Officially, the book ends with Bama's win over Auburn in the 2008 season but illustrates the attitudes and behaviors that led to the thrilling win over Texas. Along the way, the reader will enjoy encounters with such diverse characters as Tallulah Bankhead, President John F. Kennedy, and a score of famous (and infamous) people and coaches. I suspect that the probability of Auburn or Florida fans picking up this book is slim, but they would be missing a real treat. Even the most die-hard fans of opposing teams have come to appreciate and revere the accomplishments and legacy of Paul "Bear" Bryant. Many of the moments in this book clarify and strengthen not only the great stories of The Bear, but also those of his predecessors and those who have followed.