The news of Coach Bryant's death was the lead story on the evening news on ABC, CBS, and NBC. We won't see that with a football coach again.
I lived in West Germany at the time - and it was the lead story on the Armed Forces Network, too.
I was 13 when he passed, I'd been an Alabama fan for five football seasons. My mother, of course, grew up in Lanett, where her brother played sandlot ball with Bobby Hunt and Dave Hill, who both later went to Aw-bun and also to the NFL with the Dallas Texas/KC Chiefs. Bryant - to her - was like George Wallace in the sense "I know who he is and what he does," and she knew he won a lot of games.
So on the morning of January 27, I was getting ready to walk to school (19 miles uphill both ways in the snow barefoot), and Mom reached outside the door and got the morning paper, the "Stars and Stripes." She opened it up and as I was headed to the door, she shouted the headline that "Bear Bryant dies of heart attack."
I went to school and not much was said, but I watched the news that night and was just shocked that a college football coach dying was the lead story. Bear in mind - the US economy was in shambles, we were in West Germany because of this thing called the Berlin Wall and a Cold War, and the State of the Union address had been on the previous night (we got it the next day over there).
The newscast came on and mentioned it, did a brief overview - and then said they'd have more during "Sports." And that was most of the sports coverage that night.
Btw - Super Bowl 17 was played just days after Bryant died, and they had a moment of silence at the pregame ceremonies for Bryant, as there were several Dolphins (including Baumhower, McNeal, Nathan, and Stephenson) who played for Coach. I won't say it's never happened again, but I don't recall seeing PRO football take a moment of silence for the passing of a COLLEGE head coach who never coached in the NFL.
I really had no idea how big he was until he died. (There's a lot of people who didn't follow NASCAR in the day who couldn't grasp how big the death of Dale Earnhardt was, either; but Bryant's passing was on a different scale, right below that of a President or head of state).