Listen Up, People: The Top Ten Coaches In Houston History
The Chron's Jerome Solomon has another of those endless lists we writers like to do, this one asking for input on the top 10 coaches in Houston college and pro sports history. And he helpfully provides us with some candidates for the list. So I thought I would help out and provide what I consider to be the definitive list of the Top 10 coaches in Houston college and pro sports history.
1. Guy V. Lewis: One of the most underrated, under appreciated coaches in history. It's a crime that the likes of Dick Vitale, John Chaney, and Van Chancellor are in the Basketball Hall of Fame, but Lewis can't get close. He was one of the first college coaches in the South to integrate his team. He was the mastermind behind the UH/UCLA game in the Dome that made college basketball a national sport. And he helped shaped NBA greats Otis Birdsong, Elvin Hayes, Clyde Drexler, and Hakeem Olajuwon.
2. Bill Yeoman: Thought by many to be the mastermind behind the veer offense that was a mainstay of college and high school football for decades. It was brilliant offense that didn't depend on size or strength, so he didn't always need the best players to compete. He made the Cougars a national force as an independent, and once the school entered the Southwest Conference, the Cotton Bowl became a mainstay.
3. Tom Tellez: Tellez's UH track and field athletes won 30
individual NCAA titles during his time in charge of the program.
Between 1984 and 1996, six of the seven sprinters to win Olympic gold
were coached by Tellez. Among those he coached were Carl and Carole
Lewis, Leroy Burrell, Joe DeLoach, and Kirk Baptiste.
4. Jess Neely: Jerome Solomon didn't even include Neely in his list of discards, stating in comments that the former Rice coach didn't have a record to justify inclusion. But Neely is the winningest coach in Rice football history with a record of 144-124-10. And he got Rice into six bowl games -- including three Cotton Bowls -- back when making a bowl game meant a team had to have better than a 6-6 record. .
5. Bill Virdon: The man who helped make baseball relevant in Houston. He took over as manager in 1975 when the Astros were a laughingstock: the team was in bankruptcy, it had a bunch of bad players, and they played in the rainbow uniforms, some of the ugliest in baseball history. Yet he ended up getting the team into the playoffs twice, and he still holds the record for most games won by any Astros manager.
6. Bum Phillips: Bum came the closest of any Oiler head coach at getting this team to the Super Bowl. He took a lot of misfits and guys who were wanted elsewhere and put them with Earl Campbell, a relentless 3-4 defense, and if not for having to deal with a Pittsburgh Steeler team that is one of the greatest in history, might have gotten the team and the city their first title from one of the major league sports.
7. Wayne Graham: Made college sports at Rice relevant again. His Owl baseball teams have made the College World Series seven times, and won it all in 2003, to get Rice's first ever national title in any sport. His players have included Lance Berkman, Bubba Crosby, and Jose Cruz, Jr.
8. Bill Dineen: The only coach in the history of the WHA's Houston Aeros, Dineen took the team to the playoffs all six of its seasons, including three finals, winning the WHA's Avco Cup championship twice.
9. Dave Williams: Coached the UH golf team for 36 years. In that time, the Cougars won 16 NCAA titles, 14 conference championships, 340 tournaments, and he produced 41 All-American golfers. His golfers include a Who's Who roster of PGA greats, including Fred Couples, Steve Elkington, John Mahaffey, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Bill Rogers.
10. Larry Dierker: Managed the Astros for five seasons. The team finished in first place four of those five years. He's got the best winning percentage of any Astros manager, and he proved that, on occasion, broadcasters actually do know what they're talking about as he some of the things he did as manager were things he discussed doing when he was in the TV booth.
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