Bear Bryant In Chapel Hill


The first two years of the Mack Brown football era in Chapel Hill were pretty miserable. Back-to-back 1-10 seasons were hard to take, and the ABC (Anybody But Carolina) fans had a blast making fun of the Tar Heel football program. In fact, I distinctly remember a joke that was told during those years:

Person 1: “Hey, did you hear that Bear Bryant’s wife was moving to Chapel Hill for health reasons?”

Person 2: “No, I didn’t. Why?”

Person 1: “Her doctor told her that she needed to get away from big-time college football!”

Little did I know until recently that Bear Bryant has a true UNC connection (other than the one suggested in the not-so-funny joke). Lieut. Paul “Bear” Bryant was on the coaching staff of the North Carolina U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School, which was housed on the campus of the University of North Carolina during World War II. The image above comes from a game program in the North Carolina Collection’s UNC-related ephemera files for 1944.