UH COUGAR FOOTBALL PANEL IS A BLAST

Former UH Football Coach Bill Yeoman 1962-1986 and Bill McCurdy

Former UH Football Coach Bill Yeoman
1962-1986
and Bill McCurdy

Wednesday Night, from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM at the Heritage Society Tea Room downtown, the UH Cougars football panel more than filled the time with bonded reminiscence about their blended-in-blood, shared experience as actors on the stage of Houston growing in glory, and through disappointment,  as one of the top NCAA football (and basketball) programs in America since their first humble season of 1946.

The night also featured a wonderful exhibition of artifacts to peruse as the memory raced back of great Cougar moments. Items like helmets, jerseys, trophys, pictures, newspaper stories, and ancient Cougar game programs abounded.

As usual, however, the play was the thing. The reminiscences of the panelists were the revealed the same eyes and hearts understanding that made many of the great moments in Cougar history even possible against all odds. The fact is, the panelists spoke like an ongoing chain of shared values about what  UH Cougar football is really all about as a very special kind of destination school. It is a team and continuity commitment that they all seem to have understood over time – playing in different eras – and it is a value system that flies in the face of recent kiss and run, short-time beguilement that never was UH anyway.

The UH panel program was the second of five such chapters in the “Bayou City Blitz” panel discussions on football in Houston that have been so artfully planned by Mike Vance, Program Director for the Heritage Society. The panel series began on January 25th with a focus upon the Houston Oilers. It will now continue  on Wednesday, March 8h, with a panel on Rive University football; it will move on to a Wednesday, March 29th panel on local high school football; and it will conclude on Wednesday, April 12th, with a panel discussion on the Houston Texans.

Longtime Houston sports media broadcaster Craig Roberts, who also worked several years directly with iconic UH Coach Bill Yeoman on the football seasons Sunday morning “Bill Yeoman Show” was the capable, entertaining panel moderator for a group of deep red UH football former players, coaches, and vital history contributors.

Night of the UH Cougars Panel February 9, 2017 Ouside the Heritage Scoiety Downtown Houston

Night of the UH Cougars Panel
February 9, 2017
Outside the Heritage Society Grounds
Downtown Houston

These invited guest respondents included: former players Chuck Brown, Ted Pardee, Jerry Drones, David Klingler, and Alois Blackwell. In 2015, historian and author RobertBob” Jacobus, completed “Houston Cougars in the 1960s” at Texas A&M Press. It’s a book about how the UH inclusion of black football and basketball players  in the 1960s also made a quietly powerful contribution to how the City of Houston positively and non-violently pulled away from the broadest, most obvious areas of desegregation in the community. It also didn’t hurt that the newly integrated UH major sport teams were doing a pretty good job of teaching the SEC schools they played, and sometimes defeated, that integration just might be important to their own of sporting competition in the near term future.

Coach Yeoman also attended the evening program, and rightly so. He needed to be there to hear the effusive praise and expressive love he received from the panelists – and all the rest of us longtime Cougars who were present to let him know how we much cared about him and all he did to elevate UH from the primordial mud of it’s early lackluster life into both a trailblazer in civil rights advancement at the collegiate campus level in Houston, a step that also evolved as a tribute, as well, to how Yeoman’s great impact upon fairness,  civility, and talent as essentials in football , indeed, also were the great spirits controlling who plays all sports at UH.

As a football coach, I’m prejudiced,” Coach Bill Yeoman once remarked to a report during the mid-1960s. “I’m prejudiced against the use of bad football players. Nothing else matters. Good players come in all colors of the rainbow. And I don’t care what color they are, if they can play the game better than anyone else. If they are the best at what they do, they are going to start for the UH Cougars.”

Coach Yeoman brought in outstanding running back “Wondrous Warren” McVea as his first black player in 1964. McVea’s footprint on UH football history was that 37-7 whipping that the Cougars laid upon Michigan State at Ann Arbor in 1967. On the basketball side, UH late basketball coach, and another icon,  Guy Lewis was also given due credit for bringing in Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney as the pioneer blacks who would change the face on Cougar basketball fortunes equivalently, and perhaps, even more so in the hoopster sport. The Cougars’ 71-69 win over #1 UCLA at the Astrodome in the “Game of the Century” on January 20, 1968 also proved to be the contest that elevated all of college basketball to prime time tv interest in sort order. That game too was referenced by author Bob Jacobus. It was the only fair and balanced thing to do.

Ted Pardee, son of former UH Coach Jack Pardee and later, a long time member of the UH football broadcast crew, made some strong points about the UH way. It had been the Jack Pardee way as much as it earlier had been the Bill Yeoman way – and, of course, it has been considerably influenced by the way the now Power Five power structure types work to keep UH away from a full serving of the television money and conference prestige benefits at the NCAA cash bar set up.

Former UH Cougar Defensive Lineman Jerry Drones and Bill McCurdy

Former UH Cougar Defensive Lineman
Jerry Drones
and 1960 UH Alumnus Bill McCurdy

“The Cougars don’t focus on the full-of-themselves top recruits who think that football is only played at places like Texas, Alabama, and USC. Nobody wins a national championship on signing day by collecting star (eyes for only themselves) guys,” said Ted Pardee. “You become a champion player as a great team school by signing the diamonod-in-the-rough guys who will bond together as a team-devoted effort.”

“A player won’t really help you if he’s just counting the rep numbers at practice til things are done – or if he only is working hard for himself,” Alois Blackwell added.  “Coach Yeoman taught us the right way too. It’s got to be something you’re doing for the team. All for the team – and not just something you’re doing for the sake of helping yourself.

Chuck Brown, Jerry Drones, and David Klingler simply amplified the same esprit de corps. “If you played your position better than anyone else, you were going get to play at UH; if not, someone else would get the job who would then do the things you either would not – or could not – d0,” said former great Cougar QB David Klingler. “We weren’t one of those places in which people start based upon the paper clippings of their high school pedigree accomplishments. You start at UH by giving the game and the books your best – and by giving your best to the team in red and white energy roar that never, ever stops clawing.”

We are ~ The University of Houston Cougars.

Try to catch one of the last three programs in this series. You will be glad you did. Mike Vance and the Heritage Society have done an excellent job for the City of Houston Football History on this one – and they deserve our support.

If you are worried about parking, do not. The Heritage Society has a lot of free, well-lighted parking next door to the the immediate south entrance of their presentation center. And if you are still worried that attending something downtown takes you way out of your routine, please resist the norm and don’t miss something that could be really worth your time and willingness to make it happen. Call the Heritage Society and get more explicit direction on how to reach the parking area. Their telephone number is 713 655 1912.

Good Luck!

And Eat ‘Em Up, Cougars!

____________________

eagle-0range
 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas

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One Response to “UH COUGAR FOOTBALL PANEL IS A BLAST”

  1. David Munger Says:

    I remember my Senior Year at Milby High School taking batting practice at UH Field before our game at Jeppsen Baseball Field. Coach Yeoman was there after the U of H Spring Football Practice. After I finished hitting he approached me and asked me my name. When I introduced myself he knew my whole background, Quarterback in Football and Catcher in Baseball. He then proceeded to sell me on the U of H, what was ironic was a band of football players had just helped Houston reach the finals of The College World Series the year before. I was both honored and humbled that he had taken time to talk to me. I ended up at LSU but remember being at the Bluebonnet Bowl when the U of H destroyed an Auburn team led by Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan. He was a Class Act.

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