Goosetree, Bryant had special relationship
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
Jim Goosetree was the head trainer at Alabama when I was there in the '60s and '70s. Coach Goosetree actually came to Alabama a few months before Coach Bryant arrived there in 1958.
As many people already know, there was what basically consisted of a "house cleaning" of personnel in the athletic department when Coach Bryant took command. Both assistant coaches and a lot of players were let know they were no longer welcome and only Bryant-approved personnel took their place. One of the exceptions was Coach Goosetree.
According to the way Coach Goosetree tells the story, Coach Bryant had been at Alabama several weeks before he got a chance to walk to him. Being seriously concerned about the status of his newly acquired job, he ran into Coach Bryant by accident in the hallway of the coach's office one day and asked if he could talk to him. Coach Bryant agreed and motioned for him to follow him into his office.
When they reached Coach Bryant's office, he suddenly turned around and looked straight into Coach Goosetree's eye and said "I know more about you than you do about me, so if I'm happy with your work during spring training, you've got a job here as long as I'm here."
Coach Goosetree said he went on to say, "Your job is not to find something wrong with the players and tell them they are too injured to practice, but to patch them up so they can practice."
Coach Bryant and Coach Goosetree must have hit it off pretty good because they were at Alabama together for 25 years. From what I witnessed, he was the only member of the staff that had the guts to stand up to Coach Bryant and tell him what he thought.
I remember the Saturday scrimmage we had the week prior to going to Los Angeles to play USC in the L.A. Coliseum in 1971. I will have to say that one practice was the worst one I experienced. When talking to some of the guys I played with on that team, I find they are in total agreement. It was one of those times when the first offense lined up against the first defense in a controlled scrimmage. Well, things did not go well for the offense and it gradually evolved into a situation where Coach Bryant was screaming, yelling and throwing people around. The temperature on that lousy Astroturf was about 115 degrees and we stayed out there and worked every bit of three and a half hours.
At one point, they put the ball on the 10-yard line and we had four tries to score. When we failed, Coach Bryant would order the offensive line down into their standing position, then he would go down the line kicking everyone in the butt. He would start with the tight end and work his way down and I would brace myself when it came to my turn, but the impact still jarred my jaws.
Anyway, I experienced something that day that few people have ever witnessed. That was, I saw Coach Goosetree chew Coach Bryant out. I mean he really let him have it. He was yelling, "he was going to kill some of these guys." He was upset because it was so hot and Coach Bryant got mad and worked us so hard. They sent five to Druid City Hospital for heat exhaustion.
Coach Bryant was walking across the practice field after the practice was finally over and Coach Goosetree was walking beside him and letting him have it. Coach Bryant just walked on, looking at the ground and smoking his Chesterfield.
Seeing this didn't help my feelings at the time because I was as exhausted as I have ever been in my life, but later I realize what it meant about the special relationship between Coach Bryant and Coach Goosetree. I think that relationship was more than most Alabama fans realized at the time, but one that meant a lot to Coach Bryant's success.