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Tommy Hudspeth

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Tommy Hudspeth
Hudspeth, circa 1964
Biographical details
Born(1931-09-14)September 14, 1931
Cherryvale, Kansas, U.S.
DiedJune 23, 2015(2015-06-23) (aged 83)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
Playing career
Position(s)Defensive back
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1953Norman HS (OK) (assistant)
1956Tulsa Central HS (OK) (assistant)
1957–1960Tulsa (assistant)
1961–1963Calgary Stampeders (assistant)
1972UTEP (OC)
1974Chicago Fire (OB)
1976–1977Detroit Lions
1981Toronto Argonauts
Administrative career (AD unless noted)
1974–1975Detroit Lions (scout)
1975–1976Detroit Lions (CPS)
1979–1981Toronto Argonauts (GM)
Head coaching record
Overall40–56–1 (college)
11–13 (NFL)
2–4 (CFL)
Accomplishments and honors
1 WAC (1965)
WAC Coach of the Year (1965)

Tommy Joe Hudspeth (September 14, 1931 – June 23, 2015) was an American and Canadian football coach and executive at both the collegiate and professional levels. He was the head coach at Brigham Young University (BYU) from 1964 to 1971, and the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) from 1972 through 1973, compiling an overall college football record of 40–56–1. Hudspeth served in the same capacity for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) from 1976 until 1977, and Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL) in 1981, posting a mark of 13–17.


Early positions[edit]

Hudspeth graduated from the University of Tulsa in 1953 after completing his playing career at the school. He moved into the coaching ranks that fall as an assistant coach at Norman High School in Oklahoma, then served the next two years in the military. Upon his release, he accepted an assistant position at Tulsa Central High School in 1956. Returning to his alma mater the following year, Hudspeth served as an assistant for the next four years, then moved up north to the Canadian Football League (CFL), working in a similar capacity with the Calgary Stampeders from 1961 to 1963.


In 1964, Hudspeth became a head coach for the first time, taking over the Brigham Young Cougars struggling football program. Husdspeth recruited a number of ex-Marines to play for the Cougars in his first couple of seasons and BYU saw a dramatic rise in its football fortunes. In his second season 1965 BYU won its first Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championship and posted a 6–4 record. Hudspeth led the Cougars to an 8–2 mark in 1966 and had two more winning seasons in 1967 and 1969. Over an eight-year span, he compiled a record of 39–42–1. Hudspeth is credited with recruiting the program's first black player, Ronnie Knight, in 1970, following pressure from the LDS leadership and the "Black 14" Incident with Wyoming the previous year.[1] On January 22, 1972, Hudspeth resigned and was replaced by one of his assistant coaches, LaVell Edwards. Edwards built BYU into a national power by the end of the decade and later led the school to its first and only football national championship in 1984.

"I can't take any credit for what LaVell did at BYU", Hudspeth said. "LaVell was a brilliant coach. When we worked together back in the 1960s, LaVell already had a great understanding of what to do on offense. I recommended him when I left to take the job at UTEP, but everyone knew what a smart young coach he was."


Hudspeth accepted a job as offensive coordinator at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) shortly after leaving BYU. He became interim head coach on October 22, 1972, when head coach Bobby Dobbs resigned following a 56–7 loss. Hudspeth closed out the year 1–3, but followed up with a disastrous 0–11 record the next year. He was subsequently fired from UTEP.

Pro ranks[edit]

The advent of the new World Football League (WFL) in 1974 provided a new job opportunity for Hudspeth. He was hired as an offensive backs coach for the Chicago Fire. A major reason he was hired was because he had coached Chicago's quarterback Virgil Carter, at BYU. However, during the course of the season, the team's weak defense, coupled with severe financial troubles, eventually saw Hudspeth also take over the defensive backfield coaching duties.

Escaping from the ill-fated league, Hudspeth took an off-the-field job the next year as the coordinator of personnel and scouting for the Detroit Lions. He remained in that position until October 5, 1976, when Lions' head coach Rick Forzano resigned following a 1–3–0 start and Hudspeth was tabbed to replace him.[2]

The new coach had mixed results during the remainder of the 1976 NFL season, with team owner William Clay Ford actively pursuing Los Angeles Rams head coach Chuck Knox to replace Hudspeth. After Knox elected to stay with the Rams, Hudspeth was re-hired on February 9, 1977, signing a three-year contract. Hudspeth and his entire coaching staff were dismissed only eleven months later on January 9, 1978, ending his Lions' tenure with an 11–13–0 mark.[3]

On March 7, 1979, Hudspeth returned to Canada when he signed a three-year contract to become the general manager of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. He would return as a head coach on September 14, 1981, when he replaced Willie Wood with the reeling Argonauts sporting an 0–10 record. Once again, he closed out the season, then returned to the front office.

Return to Tulsa[edit]

In 2006, Hudspeth was hired by University of Tulsa director of athletics Bubba Cunningham as an assistant in the area of development and fundraising for athletics.[4]

Hudspeth died June 23, 2015, of cancer. He was 83 years old.[5]

Head coaching record[edit]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
BYU Cougars (Western Athletic Conference) (1964–1971)
1964 BYU 3–6–1 0–4 5th
1965 BYU 6–4 4–1 1st
1966 BYU 8–2 3–2 T–2nd
1967 BYU 6–4 3–2 3rd
1968 BYU 2–8 1–5 7th
1969 BYU 6–4 4–3 T–3rd
1970 BYU 3–8 1–6 T–7th
1971 BYU 5–6 3–4 T–4th
BYU: 39–42–1
UTEP Miners (Western Athletic Conference) (1972–1973)
1972 UTEP 1–3 1–3 8th
1973 UTEP 0–11 0–7 8th
UTEP: 1–14 1–10
Total: 40–56–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth


  1. ^ White, Phil. "The Black 14: Race, Politics, Religion and Wyoming Football". Wyoming State Historical Society. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  2. ^ McGowen, Deane. "People in Sports," The New York Times, Wednesday, October 6, 1976. Retrieved November 23, 2020
  3. ^ "Lions Oust Hudspeth, All Of His Aides," United Press International (UPI), Monday, January 9, 1978. Retrieved November 24, 2020
  4. ^ TU Alumnus Tommy Hudspeth Returns to Hurricane, TulsaHurricane.com article, Jan. 16, 2006, accessed March 30, 2012.
  5. ^ Drew, Jay (June 23, 2015). "Former coach established foundation for BYU's success". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved June 25, 2015.

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