Here are the notes from my December 2001 interview of Coach Yeoman in regards to his College Football Hall of Fame induction and a few other interesting topics we discussed. I hope that you will enjoy this, it is a pleasure and a real treat, as always, to sit down and talk with our legendary Coach Bill Yeoman.
Coach, tell us how it feels to be honored by your induction into the College Football Hall of Fame?
"It is a little bit like may the best team win, to hell with that, I just want to win.
No question that you feel very good about the whole thing, secondly, what got me there was a whole bunch of players, coaches, my coaches that taught me and helped me and the coaches who helped me here, it is a collective effort, unfortunately, they have to pin it on one person."
What does it feel like being the first Cougar inducted?
"Well, obviously it is good only in that, I think, there may be a little more sensitivity to the University of Houston. When you think of any basketball hall of fame that doesn't have Guy Lewis in it, well that's kind of funny.
I played for Colonel Blaik and he is in it, and worked for Duffy Daugherty and he is in it, I know the kind of people they were and the contributions they made. It is a very humbling experience."
What were some of the special times for you here at UH?
"The thing that I have enjoyed the most about our youngsters is that we have had some really great athletes that were great players and some pretty ordinary athletes that were great players. The contribution that theyb all made was quite heartening, but what I really enjoy about coming back and working at the school is that I'm getting a chance to visit with some of the kids and see how successful they have been, good families, good jobs and they just have added a great deal to those around them. It is very satisfying?"
How could UH be so fortunate to have a staff of legendary coaches at one time like Guy V. Lewis , Dave Williams and yourself? How much credit do you give Harry Fouke?
"Well, he and this is not a smart Alec answer, he just let you go ahead and do your work. He didn't just turn you loose, but in essence he turned you loose to go do it. If we ran into problems he was always there and available to help. The thing, I think as Guy pointed out, was that he wasn't going anywhere, Dave Williams wasn't going anywhere and after four or five years I wasn't interested in going anywhere else either.
My father-in-law was a really good guy and I did appreciate him very much, but when I was at Michigan State, I was like other young coaches looking for a job, OK and I knew someone who knew someone who really knew someone and he saw all this and had some concern for his daughter. He said ‘you know what you've got to do is go someplace and prove that you will stay, once you have proved you can stay then fine you can go anywhere you want'. What he really meant was once you prove you can stay, why go anywhere?
This (Houston) was a great hotbed of football, all kinds of kids available to have on your team and the enthusiasm for Texas football is known nationwide, so again, why move? You know, I did the occasion where I could have moved, but you've got some great golf weather and that's serious. I don't know about football, but that golf is real good."
Has anyone on the current staff approached you about how to stop an option attack or other questions?
"No, now I'll tell you they are being paid to do all that. Well, we sit around and visit every once in a while, but it is their deal not mine. They would feel better if we won some games, but so would I, it is just one of those things, they are the ones who have to do it.
One thing that was a hallmark of our teams was that they were tougher than a boot. We never surrendered, now that didn't mean we never got beat because we took our share of thumps, but anyone who had been in the game knew that they had been in a real brawl of a couple of hours or three. This is just what has to happen. We have got to be tougher, we can't be dealt out of games. If we wait till we get the kind of players say that a Texas or someone like that has then we will be sitting around for an eternity and it has always been that way. You have to try to win with whatever you have or try to win.
When we started out, the second year we opened with Auburn, Alabama, Ole Miss and Memphis State and I think the worst record of one of the teams was that they had lost one game. Now that's not much fun if you don't have players, but what it does is get you a real good understanding of what they have to be. I think we turned the corner with our kids when we lost to Tennessee in '64 or '65, I'm not real sure, but we kept their winning drive alive with two roughing the punter penalties. So when our kids got back and looked at the game film, they said, Holy Smokes, we may not have been what everyone wanted out of high school and we may not have been what everyone wanted in college, but we can play football. You have to find a way to win and that is what they did so wonderfully well."
Do you think that C-USA is a viable conference for the Cougars?
"Yeah, the teams are all getting better, but I think, as does Dana, that we ought to dominate it. Southern Mississippi had a little of what we did, they had to play Alabama on their turf and Auburn on their turf, Louisville has some good people and East Carolina has had some really good athletes. We have to play these games a lot tougher."
Coach, what can you tell us about the First and Ten Program that you started years ago?
"It has been bringing in between seven to eight thousand dollars a month for a long time. This is a thing that has to be done before anything else, it gets the young people involved. These young fans are the people who get in the habit of buying tickets, it just has to be done."
I ran into your long-time friend and trainer Tom Wilson recently, how important was Tom to your success?
"Finishing Camp Fun was a badge of honor. If you are not mentally tough you can't play the game. With Tom we were able to find out who was willing to pay the price right away. Tom tested them hard and we tested them hard in practice." We laughed about Tom occasionally frightening the freshmen by stabbing his prosthesis with his scissors and telling them they had to get tough. He said, "It is hard to tell a one-legged trainer that you are hurt."
All in all, it was great to sit down and speak to Coach Yeoman. Every time I get the chance it just reminds me of how fortunate we have been to have him as a Cougar. Congratulations on being inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame Coach and thanks for all that you have done for our university.
The Bill Yeoman File
4 Southwest Conference Championships
11 Bowl Appearances
160 Career Wins in 25 Seasons with Houston
Eat ‘Em Up!