Bryant described his approach this way:
"Set a goal, adopt a plan that will help you to achieve the goal. Chances of things happening in this world without goals are slim. Make sure the goal means a lot to you. Believe in your plan and don't compromise. Believe that the plan is going to win. Tie to people who believe in the plan. Make sure your plan makes the player a better person. If it doesn't, you're just using people and the plan can't be worth much."
Bryant recruited players based on quickness, toughness and character. He was not concerned with size. Many of Bryant's players were not recruited by other colleges because they were deemed to be too small. He was more concerned with the size of their heart than their body. Bryant put it this way:
"Don't tolerate lazy people. They are losers. People who come to work and watch clocks and pass off responsibilities will only drag you and your organization down. I despise clock-watchers. They don't want to be part of a winning situation. They won't roll up their sleeves when you need them to. If you have lazy people, get rid of them. Remember, it is easy to develop the bad habits of lazy people."
Bryant demanded much of his players and he taught them much. Players were required to get up by an appointed time every morning and show up for breakfast in the cafeteria downstairs, wearing collared shirts and long pants. They were expected to keep their rooms neat, and to make their beds every morning. The nightly curfew--10:30 P.M. during the season—was strictly enforced. Cutting classes was not tolerated. Missing an academic class usually resulted in a special 5:00 A.M. workout.
Bryant expected and demanded that they act like gentlemen in all situations. Any time an adult entered a room, a player was obliged to stand up. On the field he told them to knock their opponents on their backside and then help them up,
Bryant's life lessons for his team were direct: "Don't quit. Quit once and it is liable to become a habit." Former player Jack Pardee described the lessons that Bryant taught all of his players every year:
"Coach Bryant told us that if you hang in there, something good will happen. He said, ‘What's going to happen when you're 35 and you get a pink slip, the kids are hungry and your wife runs off with the shoe salesman? Are you going to quit then?' I was 18 at the time and it was hard to relate, but by the time I was 35, all those things had happened to me, except the shoe salesman part. I even had cancer when I was 28. I had four kids and didn't know if I'd live a year. Coach Bryant taught us to never give up. The things he preached came true."
Bear Bryant had a plan that helped others and he never quit on his players. Bryant established a scholarship fund that allowed the children of any of his former players (1958-1982) to attend the University of Alabama for free. Hundreds of youngsters benefitted.