Paul "Bear" Bryant

Paul "Bear" Bryant left the University of Kentucky to take over the Texas A&M football program.

Paul "Bear" Bryant's first order of business before the '54 season was to establish some discipline on the A&M team. He took the squad to Junction — on the outskirts of Texas Hill Country — for a 10-day training camp in the middle of August. It was in the middle of a drought and the temperature often reached triple digits. Bryant also didn't believe much in water breaks to go along with his two-a-days. The team would practice for up to four hours per day. According to Jim Dent’s Ten Days in Hell With the Bear, fullback Jack Pardee once lost 20 pounds during one practice. Tackle Billy Schroeder suffered a heat stroke and nearly died, and had to be packed in ice to save his life. Quarterback Elwood Kettler practiced with four broken bones in his back. By the ninth day of camp, 76 players had quit the team and returned to College Station. By the end of the 10th day, just 35 players were still on the team. Future coach Gene Stallings said after the camp, "We went out there in two buses and came back in one." Prior to the season, Bryant lauded his team’s work ethic. He told The Eagle, "We're short on depth and ability but long on spirit and hustle. The boys are giving it everything they have and that's all anyone can ask for." The team lost to Oklahoma State and Texas Tech to begin the season. However, Kettler found Stallings for a game-winning touchdown pass in a 6-0 win over Georgia. Against Houston the next week, Kettler led a 59-yard drive to the Cougars' 1-yard line. However, time expired and the Aggies fell, 10-7. A&M turned the ball over five times in a one-point loss to TCU. A&M lost to Baylor the next week. A&M tested No. 4 Arkansas at Kyle Field as running back Richard Vick scampered for 80 yards, but the Hogs prevailed, 14-7. The Aggies lost their next two leading into the finale against Texas. Their rival prevailed, 22-13. The Aggies still had yet to win in Memorial Stadium since it opened in 1924. Kettler led the SWC in total offense with 937 total yards. At 1-9, A&M had its second-worst season in program history, and Bryant had the first losing season of his career.

(1) comment

rufus1

Just wanted to know why Joe Boring was left out of comments from 1952 to 1954. 1953 best year 4 interceptions in one game against Arkansas, all SWC. Jim Dent made some great comments about Boring in his book.

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