Former Alabama QB Gary Rutledge Discusses What It Was like to Play for Bear Bryant
Former Alabama quarterback Gary Rutledge joined Wimp and Barry Sanderson to discusses what it was like to play for the legendary coach Bear Bryant earlier this week.
Rutledge rushed for 10 touchdowns and 526 yards on 132 carries, while adding 11 touchdowns and 1,188 yards through the air on 79 attempts during his Crimson Tide career. Though Terry Davis was the first quarterback to run the wishbone offense in 1971, Rutledge backed Davis up during the 1972 season before leading the Crimson Tide to their ninth national title in 1973.
"The thing with the wishboning quarterback is to not make mistakes," Rutledge said. "You got to stick that ball in the fullback, you got to snap the ball and get it out of there real quick."
Rutledge became very familiar with the mesh drill, relying on practice over and over again to run the option as smooth as possible because, "the fullback, nor I, knew who was going to get the ball when the ball was snapped most of the time."
Rutledge told hosts Wimp and Barry that if you were late to a meeting with Coach Bryant that it was best to not come at all, "rules were made for a reason." Coach Bryant demanded discipline and if you were late then he would embarrass you, make you run and possibly bench you.
The one story that sticks out in Rutledge's mind the most was the first play he ever ran in a game against Southern Miss, while backing up Davis during his sophomore season. Davis' jersey was ripped off and he was forced to go to the sideline, and Coach Mal Moore and Coach Bryant started yelling for Rutledge to enter the game.
"Mal Moore called the hardest play in the wishbone," Rutledge said. "I don't know why he did it.
"Well you step to the right and go to the left. That's my off-hand. Even though I had practiced the play, knew how to run it and ran it many times, I was fidgeting with my left-hand. So he says 'Tanner 49 option' and I jogged out there and run the play, my knees were shaking, my hearts pounding. So I do the play and I go out there and push it on the ground. Joe LaBue picks the ball up and recovers it, luckily I didn't lose possession."
Rutledge jogged back to the sideline after the single play expecting Coach Bryant to chew him "up and down the field". Moore was with Coach Bryant who told Rutledge, "Gary I want to apologize for that sorry play that Mal called."
Rutledge told hosts Wimp and Barry that Coach Bryant was different.
"He motivated us differently and said things to us that we didn't quite understand, but he knew what he was doing."
You can listen to the full interview in video above. As always, you can join Wimp and Barry Inside The Locker Room weekdays from 7-9 a.m. on 102.9 Fm or 100.9 FM. If you aren't local, or don't have access to the radio, you can also listen live by clicking here or by using the RadioPup app.