Alabama took a ‘Bear’ from Texas A&M in 1957

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Alabama and Texas A&M have one of the nation’s most underrated football rivalries.

The top-ranked Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0) visits No. 24 Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1) in College Station, Texas on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CBS will televise the game.

The seeds for the rivalry began during the 1957 season, which Texas A&M was in position to win a national championship.  The Aggies had a chance to win the Southwest Conference and national championships.

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The Aggies took an unbeaten 8-0 record and number one ranking into a showdown against No. 20 Rice at Rice Stadium on Nov. 16, 1957. The Owls pulled off a 7-6 upset, ending Texas A&M’s national title hopes.

Days before the Texas A&M-Rice contest, the Houston Post reported that Aggies coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was leaving to take the Alabama job. The headline read: “Bear goes to Bama.”

Aggie players told Rusty Burson of Texas A&M’s 12th Man Magazine decades later that they felt something was different on Nov. 13, 1957 when Bryant wore a business suit to practice. Bryant reportedly talked to Alabama about the job that same day.

“We were absolutely deflated,” Aggies quarterback Charlie Milstead told Burson.

Texas A&M did not win another game that season, falling to Texas (7-6) and No. 13 Tennessee in the Gator Bowl. The Aggies’ only bright spot was John David Crow winning the Heisman Trophy that season.

We all know what happened: Bryant left Texas A&M for Alabama after the 1957 season. Texas A&M boosters were unable to convince Bryant to stay in College Station.

Alabama football fanatics and historians can recall Bryant’s reason for returning to the Capstone in Tuscaloosa.

“Mama called. And when Mama calls, you just have to come runnin’,” Bryant said.

Bryant restored greatness into the Crimson Tide’s football program, winning 323 games and six national championships between 1958-1982.

Texas A&M  produced two memorable moments in the series.

The Aggies beat Alabama 20-16 in the 1968 Cotton Bowl. Future Alabama coach Gene Stallings was the Aggies’ coach.

Quarterback Johnny Manziel led the Aggies to a 29-24 upset over the No. 1 Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 10, 2012. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy a month later.

With the history between the two teams, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Aggies pulled off the upset or comes close.