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The Junction Boys

Dent, Jim. The Junction Boys: How Ten Days in Hell With Bear Bryant Forged a Championship Team. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1999.

This is a story of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's first season in 1954 at Texas A&M. Coach Bryant, in August of 1954, took two busloads of players, 111 men, out to a small spot in the road known as the Town of Junction. Junction was a small, isolated town in Texas that later came to belated glory due to the things that Coach Bryant did to, with and for the Texas A&M football team. Coach Bryant put his players through some of the most grueling workouts and football practices known to man. He led and drove the would-be football players during almost two weeks of hell. Depending upon whom you talk to, it is one of the greatest coaching stories of all time because it set the foundation and standards for later day Texas A&M Aggie teams. Other readers and writers could conceivably look at this event as a watershed for college football, because it was rugged Darwinism at its best, (or at its worst). Out of the 111 players, 35 men survived the "ten-day Aggie death camp." This book is a story of that experience and it sets the stage for the future success of the Aggie team. Readers who love macho football will enjoy this well-written story, and academicians and unloving critics of "big-time" football will site this story as an example of competitive football gone haywire.

If you are a lover of Coach Bryant and have laid flowers on his grave in Birmingham you will relate to this book and identify with the survivors who later became outstanding players at A&M and indeed, in the nation. "The Junction Boys," as they are called, became a part of Texas football legends. Bear, in all of his rough and tough football coaching style, is shown in realistic detail by the authors. Again, other readers would cite this as that which is bad about "big-time" football. You choose your heroes and you either like or dislike Coach Bryant after reading this book.

The book is a marvelous history of the successful teams which Coach "Bear" fielded at Texas A&M before leaving to return to Alabama for further years of glory. The teams, the players and their contributions to football are covered in detail and there is no doubt that the Junction experience laid the foundation for the days of glory teams under Coach Bryant at Texas A&M. The author appears to revere the man called "Bear," and did not spend sufficient time discussing the consequences of the Junction experience on the players who left the team. It is a football lover's book written about a legend who used isolation, the hot Texas sun, fluid deprivation and hard workouts to ensure that he had the foundations of players who wanted to play for him and who loved the game of football. Critics might ask, "Where was the college administration when all of this was taking place, and where was responsible sports medicine practices employed?" Nonetheless, this is a well-written story covering a unique event and period in Aggie football history. Read it for yourself.

Note: These reviews compiled by Dr. Ron Hyatt. See disclaimer on front page.