Longtime Tide Aide Clem Gryska Dies

Clem Gryska enjoyed telling the story. Red Drew had taken over the head coaching reins at Alabama from Frank Thomas, and Drew changed the offense from the Notre Dame box to the T formation. Gryska, who had been a quarterback (which was a blocking position), was switched to an end.

In practice one day, Gryska dropped a pass. "Two hands, Gryska! Two hands!," admonished Drew.

"That broke the team up," Gryska said. "If I'd had two hands. I might not have been at Alabama."

Gryska had lost most of one hand in a childhood accident. Thus, he was not eligible for military service and ended up at Alabama, where he played on Bama's last Rose Bowl team at the end of the 1945 season. For most of his adult life he was a major player in Alabama football – as an assistant coach under Paul "Bear" Bryant beginning in 1961 and spending many of his final years as a staff member at the Bryant Museum.

Gryska died Monday after a brief illness. Arrangements will be announced later.

Gryska, a native of Steubenville, Ohio, originally signed with Northwestern, but in those lax days was able to change his designation to Alabama.

Following his playing career, Gryska spent time as a high school coach – an assistant at Huntsville High, then head coach at Emma Sansom in Gadsden and back to Huntsville as head coach.

He joined the Alabama staff of Coach Paul Bryant in 1961 and would eventually serve as head freshman coach and recruiting coordinator.

Following retirement from the athletics department, he joined the staff of the Bryant Museum where he was a living part of Crimson Tide football history.

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