Claude "Hoot" Gibson

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Hoot Gibson
Born (1939-05-26) May 26, 1939 (age 75)
Spruce Pine, NC
Position(s) Cornerback
College NC State
AFL Draft 1961 / Round 7/ 7th Selection
Statistics
Teams
1961–1962
1963–1965
AFL San Diego Chargers
AFL Oakland Raiders

Claude "Hoot" Gibson (born May 26, 1939) is a former American football player and coach in the United States. A defensive back and kick returner, he played collegiately at North Carolina State University, and professionally in the American Football League for the San Diego Chargers and the Oakland Raiders.

Playing career[edit]

Gibson attended Lee H. Edwards High School (Asheville, NC).

Gibson was an instant star on the NC State Wolfpack freshman team, as a defensive back, receiver, return man and halfback. For the next three seasons, Gibson rarely came out of a ballgame. He led the Pack in punt returns in 1958 and 1960, kickoff returns in 1959 and interceptions in 1960 with four. He provided crucial rushing and receiving yards whenever needed. He played his entire senior season with a broken hand and wrist. Gibson concluded his senior year by playing in four post-season all-star games — Senior Bowl, Copper Bowl, Coaches All-America Bowl and the Chicago All-Star Game. Gibson, and teammate Roman Gabriel, with four appearances each, played in more postseason all-star games than any Wolfpack player ever.

It was Gibson's versatility, speed and daring that made him a valuable pro commodity. He was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, but elected instead to sign with the American Football League's San Diego Chargers. Gibson played two years for pro football hall of fame coach Sid Gillman at San Diego, leading the league in interceptions in 1962. During Gibson's rookie season, the Chargers lost to the Houston Oilers, 10–3, in the AFL Championship game. Soon after the championship, Earle Edwards encouraged Gibson to return to NC State to finish his degree work, and help coach spring ball. He received an education degree from State in 1961.

Gibson’s first year in the pro ranks he picked up a nickname. His Charger teammates gave him the nickname "Hoot." "During my pro career I never saw my name in the paper as Claude," said Gibson. "It was 'Hoot' everywhere I went, and still is today."

Following the 1962 season, Gibson was traded to the AFL's Oakland Raiders, where his head coach was Al Davis. In both 1963 and 1964, Gibson led the AFL in punt returns. In fact, he owns the third best punt return average of all professional football players with 75 or more punt returns. Gibson returned 110 punts for 1,381 yards during his career for a 12.1 average. He scored three punt return touchdowns and had a long return of 85 yards. Gibson's pro career lasted five years, when he abruptly retired at age 32. For the next two years he served as a scout and recruiter in the Raiders' organization.

Coaching career[edit]

Claude Gibson
Sport(s) Football
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1967
1968
1969
1970–1972
1973–1982
NC State (DB)
Boston Patriots (DB)
Buffalo Bills (assistant)
Tulsa
Mars Hill
Head coaching record
Overall 66–53–2
Statistics
College Football Data Warehouse

In 1967 when Edwards had an opening come up on his staff, Gibson was the first person he called. Gibson returned to Raleigh just in time for what is arguably the greatest football season in NC State history. He coached the "white shoed" defensive backs of the 1967 Wolfpack, a squad that started the year 8–0 and rose to #3 in the polls. The 1967 Pack finished the year 9–2. Following the 1967 season, Gibson began a pro coaching career that lasted two years. At age 29, he coached the Boston Patriots defensive backs in 1968, becoming the youngest assistant coach in professional football. He spent the 1969 season on the Buffalo Bills staff.

In 1970, Gibson returned to college football as the offensive coordinator at the University of Tulsa. During July of that year, Gibson was elevated to interim head coach when Golden Hurricane coach Vince Carillot resigned. When Gibson's Tulsa squad started the season 4–1, which included a stunning upset of Memphis State, a team Tulsa had not beaten in six years, the interim label was removed. His first Golden Hurricane team finished 6–4. Gibson would spend three seasons at Tulsa, before returning home to the North Carolina mountains. He became the head football coach at Mars Hill College. He spent ten seasons there, compiling a 55–37–2 record, winning one South Atlantic Conference championship, producing four Division II All-Americans and 25 All-SAC players. He was recently inducted into the North Carolina Football Hall of Fame.

Head coaching record[edit]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs Coaches# AP°
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Missouri Valley Conference) (1970–1972)
1970 Tulsa 6–4 3–1 2nd
1971 Tulsa 4–7 2–1 4th
1972 Tulsa 1–5* 1–0 4th
Tulsa: 11–16 6–2 * Fired after six games
Total: 11–16
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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