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No one who has seen the iconic photograph can ever forget its emotional pull: a grinning Gene Stallings, hoisted into the air at midfield in the arms of his lifelong mentor, Paul “Bear” Bryant, moments after the final gun sounded for the 1968 Cotton Bowl. Stallings’s upstart Aggies delivered an unbelievable upset of Bryant’s Crimson Tide, a team that had dominated its SEC rivals under the leadership of a young quarterback who later achieved NFL fame, Kenny “Snake” Stabler.

Yet the famous image captured on that memorable day is merely the culmination of a greater story. In Bebes and the Bear: Gene Stallings, Coach Bryant, and Their 1968 Cotton Bowl Showdown, Ron J. Jackson Jr. unpacks for readers the heartwarming journey of two coaches and their lifelong mutual respect and admiration. From the rocky, drought-plagued practice fields in Junction, Texas, in the summer of 1954, through the memorable 1967 autumn campaign that led both coaches to their highly publicized Cotton Bowl matchup, Jackson chronicles the story of Bryant, Stallings, and the two storied football traditions that bound them together.

Based on hours of interviews with Stallings, his players, and other eyewitnesses and painstaking research in the archives at both Texas A&M University and the University of Alabama, Jackson has reconstructed the pivotal moments of play, the coaching decisions, and the athletic heroics that combined to create one of the most unforgettable moments in college football history.

Bebes and the Bear

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