The legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant is recognized nationwide as one of the greatest coaches ever. So why did he always cite his 1-9 A&M team of 1954 as his favorite? This is the story of a remarkable team – and the beginning of the legend.
The Junction Boys tells the story of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's legendary training camp in the small town of Junction, Texas. In a move that many consider the salvation of the Texas A&M football program, Coach Bryant put 115 players through the most grueling practices ever imagined. Only a handful of players survived the entire 10 days, but they braved the intense heat of the Texas sun and the burning passion of their coach, and turned a floundering team into one of the nation's best. The Junction Boys is more than just a story of tough practices without water breaks. An extraordinary fellowship was forged from the mind-numbing pain. The thirty-five survivors bonded together like no other team in America. They profited from the Junction experience; the knowledge they took back with them to College Station, about themselves and what they were capable of, would be used for the rest of their lives.
In vivid and powerful images reminiscent of Friday Night Lights, Hoosiers, and The Last Picture Show, these young men and their driven coach come to life. The Junction Boys contains all the hallmarks of a classic sports story, and it combines America's love of college football with an extraordinary story of perseverance and triumph.
When Paul "Bear" Bryant left the University of Kentucky to take the reins of the Texas A&M football program in 1954, his legend was already approaching Texas-size proportions (almost 30 years later, Bryant became the winningest Division I coach of all time, with most of his victories coming at the University of Alabama). The problem: he knew he had inherited an awful team. Texas sportswriter Dent (King of the Cowboys) tells how Bryant turned the A&M program around. Over 100 boys rode in three buses out to the remote west Texas town of Junction and began grueling practices on cactus-riddled gravel in 110-degree heat, with no water. Ten days later, all but 34 had quit or simply run off. The team won just one game that season; two years later, however, A&M went undefeated. Dent has produced a richly evocative chronicle of the time and place, filled with bourbon-swilling, money-rolled alumni and every conceivable form of coaching sadism (Bryan deliberately broke one player's nose with his own forehead on the first day of practice). Culled from dozens of interviews with participants, Dent's text follows the players through the training camp, the team's eventual success and Bryan's continuing influence in their lives. Dent is a smooth storyteller, and he writes with a novelistic, often gritty touch. Though he does show Bryan paying for recruits, driven by pride and savagely attacking his players, he excuses Bryan's excesses as part of what it takes to build winning character. In the end, Dent gives readers a whooping celebration of the myth of Texas gridiron machismo. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.