December 26, 1927 |
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1954–1961||Michigan State (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|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. In his tenure, he became the winningest coach in school history, with an overall record of 160–108–8. 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 and finished 11 times in the AP or UPI Top 20.
Yeoman played center for Army from 1946 to 1948 under legendary head coach Earl Blaik. The 1946 team was 9–0–1 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 22–2–4 record. Bill Yeoman is still the only underclassman to ever captain an Army team.
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 program’s short history. Yeoman established a winning tradition in his very first year at Houston, guiding the team to a 7–4 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. 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. 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. This average was aided in part by the Cougars' 100–6 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 10–2 record that included a 30–0 win at rival Texas and a victory over Maryland in the 1977 Cotton Bowl Classic. 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. During Yeoman's career, the Cougars won four Southwest Conference Championships (1976, 1978, 1979, 1984), and he earned a 6–4–1 record in bowl games including a win over Nebraska in 1980 Cotton Bowl Classic.
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. Due in part to the investigation, Houston forced Yeoman to retire at the end of the season after a 1–10 campaign.
Yeoman coached 46 All-Americans, and 69 players who later competed in the NFL, during his career. Former 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.  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. 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
Yeoman was inducted into the University of Houston Hall of Honor in 1998. The College Football Hall of Fame inducted Yeoman in 2001, and two years later the Texas Sports Hall of Fame named him as an inductee. Also in 2002, Yeoman received the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award Lifetime Achievement Award. 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
|Houston Cougars (Independent) (1962–1975)|
|Houston Cougars (Southwest Conference) (1976–1986)|
|1980||Houston||7–5||5–3||T–2nd||W Garden State|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
Yeoman worked under only one head coach:
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- Brown, Mike (2008-07-02). "Past tense". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
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- "Hall of Fame Inductee Search: Bill Yeoman". College Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- Rexrode, Joe (2009-04-22). "Perles, Yeoman were both football innovators". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- Scoggins, Chip (2007-08-25). "The veer: Houston coach rode his offense to Hall of Fame". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- 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.
- "Houston stuns Huskers 17–14". The Daily Reporter. United Press International. 1980-01-02. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- "Houston Football Coaches Accused of Paying Players". The Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. 1986-03-17. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- 1988 Houston infractions report
- "NCAA comes down hard on Houston for violations". The Vindicator. Associated Press. 1988-12-17. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- "Hall of Honor Inductees". University of Houston. Retrieved 2011-02-02.
- "The Lifetime Achievement Award". Paul "Bear" Bryant Awards. Retrieved 2011-02-02.