Bill Yeoman

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Bill Yeoman
Bill Yeoman portrait.jpg
Biographical details
Born (1927-12-26) December 26, 1927 (age 87)
Elnora, Indiana
Playing career
1945 Texas A&M
19461948 Army
Position(s) Center
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
19541961 Michigan State (assistant)
19621986 Houston
Head coaching record
Overall 1601088
Bowls 641
Accomplishments and honors
4 SWC (1976, 1978, 1979, 1984)
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2001 (profile)

Bill Yeoman (born December 26, 1927) is a former American football player and coach. Starting in 1962, he was the University of Houston's head coach, holding the position through 1986.[1] In his tenure, he became the winningest coach in school history, with an overall record of 1601088.[2] Yeoman revolutionized offensive football in 1964 by developing the Veer option offense. Yeoman also played a prominent role in the racial integration of collegiate athletics in the South by being the first coach at a predominantly white school in the State of Texas to sign a black player. Yeoman's Cougars finished the season ranked in the AP Top 10 four times[3] and finished 11 times in the AP or UPI Top 20.

Playing career[edit]

Yeoman played center for Army from 1946 to 1948[4] under legendary head coach Earl Blaik. The 1946 team was 901 with a backfield of two Heisman Trophy winners: Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard. Yeoman was a team captain in 1948 and chosen as a second team All-American. The Army football teams in which he played compiled a combined 2224 record.[4] Bill Yeoman is still the only underclassman to ever captain an Army team.

Coaching career[edit]

From 1950 to 1953, Yeoman served in the United States Army. After his return from the Army,[4] he became an assistant coach under Duffy Daugherty at Michigan State from 1954 to 1961.[5]


After serving as an assistant coach for eight seasons at Michigan State, Yeoman was hired to become the head coach of the University of Houston Cougars in 1962. The Cougars had only begun playing football in 1946 and had enjoyed little success or prominence in the programs short history. Yeoman established a winning tradition in his very first year at Houston, guiding the team to a 74 record and a victory in the Tangerine Bowl. After a losing season in 1963, Yeoman began experimenting with a new offense named the Veer, which used a split-back alignment.[6] The Veer option offense would revolutionize college football and help the Cougars to become a perennial power.

Yeoman became the first head college football coach of a major program in the state of Texas to give a scholarship to an African American player. Warren McVea, from San Antonio, signed with UH on July 11, 1964.[1][5] The recruitment of McVea was part of an overall move by the University of Houston athletic department in 1964 to integrate their athletic programs. The other prominent black athletes signed by UH that year were basketball players Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney.

Running the Veer offense, Houston led the nation in total offense for three consecutive years in the late 1960s, with averages of more than 400 yards per game each year. The 1968 offensive total was the highest in the country (42.5 points per game), and set an NCAA record.[4] This average was aided in part by the Cougars' 1006 victory over Tulsa that marked the last time that a team scored 100 points in a top-division college football game.

Houston joined the Southwest Conference in 1976, and the Cougars posted a 102 record that included a 300 win at rival Texas and a victory over Maryland in the 1977 Cotton Bowl Classic.[3][7] Yeoman finished as the runner-up for the AFCA Coach of the Year award and won Coach of the Year in the state of Texas.[1] During Yeoman's career, the Cougars won four Southwest Conference Championships (1976, 1978, 1979, 1984),[4] and he earned a 641 record in bowl games including a win over Nebraska in 1980 Cotton Bowl Classic.[3][8]

Yeoman's tenure at UH was not without controversy. In 1986, allegations surfaced that illegal recruiting inducements and extra benefits had been tendered to UH football players. Yeoman was alleged to have handed out cash to players.[9] Due in part to the investigation, Houston forced Yeoman to retire at the end of the season after a 1-10 campaign.[10]

Yeoman coached 46 All-Americans, and 69 players who later competed in the NFL, during his career.[1] Current Baylor head coach Art Briles also played for Yeoman at UH. In his 25 years as the headman at UH he had taken the program from obscure upstart to regional power. In the process, his offensive innovations had helped to revolutionize college football. When Yeoman arrived at UH, he inherited a little-known independent program that had been to only one bowl game. He left it as a member and four-time champion of a major athletic conference.

In 1988, the NCAA slapped Houston with three years' probation for over 250 major violations in the latter part of Yeoman's tenure. The Cougars were banned from bowl games in 1989 and 1990 and kicked off live television in 1989. They were also limited to 15 scholarships for the 1989 season. [11] As draconian as these sanctions were, the NCAA said that the penalties would have been even harsher (including being limited to 20 scholarships for 1990 and 50 paid recruiting visits for 1989) had Yeoman still been coach.[10] As it turned out, the penalties that were imposed were harsh enough that the Cougars would need almost the entire decade of the 1990s to recover; they would only have two winning seasons from 1991 to 2004.

Later life and honors[edit]

Yeoman as coach of the Houston Cougars

Yeoman was inducted into the University of Houston Hall of Honor in 1998.[12] The College Football Hall of Fame inducted Yeoman in 2001,[4] and two years later the Texas Sports Hall of Fame named him as an inductee.[1][4] Also in 2002, Yeoman received the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award Lifetime Achievement Award.[13] The University of Houston named the Yeoman Field House, where Houston track and field compete, after him. Yeoman currently works as a fundraiser and Development Officer in the athletic department of the University of Houston. Yeoman's name was mentioned in the movie "We are Marshall" as a leader of the veer offense when the Marshall coaching staff was considering switching to the veer offense.

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP
Houston Cougars (Independent) (19621975)
1962 Houston 74 W Tangerine
1963 Houston 28
1964 Houston 261
1965 Houston 451
1966 Houston 82 17
1967 Houston 73 19
1968 Houston 622 20 18
1969 Houston 92 W Astro-Bluebonnet 16 12
1970 Houston 83 13 19
1971 Houston 93 L Astro-Bluebonnet 14 17
1972 Houston 641
1973 Houston 111 W Astro-Bluebonnet 13 9
1974 Houston 831 T Astro-Bluebonnet 11 19
1975 Houston 28
Houston Cougars (Southwest Conference) (19761986)
1976 Houston 102 71 T1st W Cotton 4 4
1977 Houston 65 44 T4th
1978 Houston 93 71 1st L Cotton 11 10
1979 Houston 111 71 T1st W Cotton 5 5
1980 Houston 75 53 T2nd W Garden State
1981 Houston 741 521 3rd L Sun
1982 Houston 551 431 4th
1983 Houston 47 35 7th
1984 Houston 75 62 T1st L Cotton
1985 Houston 47 35 5th
1986 Houston 110 08 9th
Houston: 71542 51352
Total: 1601088
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
Rankings from final AP Poll.

Coaching tree[edit]

Yeoman worked under only one head coach:


  1. ^ a b c d e "Yeoman, Bill". Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  2. ^ Brown, Mike (2008-07-02). "Past tense". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  3. ^ a b c "Bill Yeoman". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Hall of Fame Inductee Search: Bill Yeoman". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  5. ^ a b Rexrode, Joe (2009-04-22). "Perles, Yeoman were both football innovators". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  6. ^ Scoggins, Chip (2007-08-25). "The veer: Houston coach rode his offense to Hall of Fame". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  7. ^ Boyles, Bob; Guido, Paul (2007). 50 Years of College Football: A Modern History of America's Most Colorful Sport. Skyhorse Publishing Inc. p. 894. ISBN 1-60239-090-8. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  8. ^ "Houston stuns Huskers 1714". The Daily Reporter. United Press International. 1980-01-02. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  9. ^ "Houston Football Coaches Accused of Paying Players". The Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. 1986-03-17. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  10. ^ a b 1988 Houston infractions report
  11. ^ "NCAA comes down hard on Houston for violations". The Vindicator. Associated Press. 1988-12-17. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  12. ^ "Hall of Honor Inductees". University of Houston. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 
  13. ^ "The Lifetime Achievement Award". Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards. Retrieved 2011-02-02. 

External links[edit]