Kentucky Reunion Honors “Bear Boys”
Long before Paul “Bear” Bryant ever set foot on a campus at Texas A&M or Alabama, he led the University of Kentucky football program.
By: BE Coleman
Long before Paul “Bear” Bryant ever set foot on a campus at Texas A&M or Alabama, he led the University of Kentucky football program. From 1946 until 1953 Kentucky never saw a losing football campaign.
On June 19th his former gridiron players will gather in Lexington for a reunion that pays homage to those glory days in the Bluegrass State.
At least 30 of the Bear’s Boys plan to attend the event, of those find George Blanda who guided the Wildcats to their first bowl game (and win) in school history, then went on to the longest career in pro football history will be in attendance.
Two other noted football names attending are All-America quarterback Babe Parilli, who led UK to consecutive appearances in the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls and the legendary Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones, the only player to have his jersey retired in both football and basketball.
Jones played football under Bryant and basketball under Adolph Rupp while at Kentucky.
While Bryant was the head coach at Kentucky, the Cats compiled a 60-23-5 record during those eight seasons (.710%), including the Wildcats’ first four bowl games.
Kentucky won the first (and only) Great Lakes Bowl in 1947 and played in the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls following the 1949, 1950 and 1951 seasons, respectively. The Wildcats won both their Sugar and Cotton bowl games.
Kentucky’s best season under Bryant came in 1950 when they won their first SEC Football Crown. UK went 11-1, capped by a 13-7 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, ending the Sooners’ 31-game winning streak.
UK is one of four schools that have a claim on the 1950 national championship. At that time, national rankings were finalized before bowl games were played, but an analysis of the 1950 season by the Sagarin Computer Ratings lists UK as the No. 1 team for that season in his poll.
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