It’s easy to note the many ways how World War II changed the course of history.
But this week, here’s a look at one way that it changed college football history.
As Alabama and Arkansas gear up for Saturday’s game in Fayetteville, a look back shows Bear Bryant was close to starting his head coaching career in his home state of Arkansas.
Until the day that changed everything in the mid-20th century.
According to a piece from Michael Casagrande of AL.com, Bryant was driving from Nashville to Fayetteville to interview for the head coaching job at his home state school as the rumored favorite to unseat Fred Thomsen.
Bryant, then a 28-year-old line coach at Vanderbilt, was coming off the high of his Commodores recently upsetting No. 8 Alabama 7-0.
He was driving near Memphis on a Sunday morning to interview for the Arkansas job, until he heard the news bulletin that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Casagrande’s story had some interesting old clippings from the Tennessean back then that includes all the great old-timey newspaper language: “friends of ancient vintage” and the word “bailiwick.”
After the bombing, Bryant instead served in the U.S. Navy, delaying his head coaching career until 1945 when he joined Maryland. After one season in College Park, Bryant guided Kentucky for eight seasons followed by a four-year stop at Texas A&M and before building his iconic program in Tuscaloosa.
The rest, as they say, is history.
But it’s an important look back to see how college football history was changed by one of America’s most infamous days.