Bum Phillips

Last updated

Bum Phillips
Bum Philips with G.H.W. Bush cropped.jpg
Phillips with former President George H. W. Bush
Personal information
Born:(1923-09-29)September 29, 1923
Orange, Texas
Died:October 18, 2013(2013-10-18) (aged 90)
Goliad, Texas
Career information
College: Stephen F. Austin
Career history
As coach:
Head coaching record
Regular season:NFL: 82–77 (.516)
Postseason:NFL: 4–3 (.571)
Career:NFL: 86–80 (.518)
NCAA: 4–5 (.444)
Coaching stats at PFR

Oail Andrew "Bum" Phillips (September 29, 1923 – October 18, 2013) was an American football coach at the high school, college and professional levels. He served as head coach in the National Football League (NFL) for the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1980 and the New Orleans Saints from 1981 to 1985. He was the father of NFL coach Wade Phillips.


Early football career

Phillips played football at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, but enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He became one of the elite Marine Raiders.

After he returned from the war, Phillips completed the remaining year on his degree at Lamar, and enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, lettering in football in 1948 and 1949 and graduating with a degree in education in 1949.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Phillips coached high school football in various Texas cities including: Nederland, Jacksonville, Amarillo High School, and Port Neches–Groves (1963–1964).

His college coaching stints included serving as an assistant coach at Texas A&M University (for Bear Bryant), the University of Houston (for Bill Yeoman), Southern Methodist University (for Hayden Fry), and Oklahoma State University with Jim Stanley. He was the head coach at the University of Texas at El Paso for one season in 1962.

NFL coaching career

In the late 1960s, Phillips was hired by Sid Gillman to serve as a defensive assistant coach for the San Diego Chargers. In 1973, Gillman became head coach of the Houston Oilers, and he brought Phillips with him as his defensive coordinator.

In 1975, Phillips was named head coach and general manager of the Oilers, and he served in that capacity through 1980. [1] As coach of the Oilers, he became the winningest coach in franchise history (59–38 record). Under Phillips, the Oilers reached the AFC Championship Game in two consecutive seasons, losing to the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers 34–5 in 1978 and 27–13 in 1979. Both teams were members of the competitive AFC Central Division and thus played three times in both 1978 and 1979, fueling an intense rivalry. During this period of league-wide AFC dominance, some commentators considered the Oilers and Steelers to be the two best teams in the NFL. Phillips remarked at the time, "The road to the Super Bowl goes through Pittsburgh."

From 1981 through the first 12 games of the 1985 season, he was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, and as in his coaching tenure with the Oilers, Phillips took off his trademark Stetson inside the Louisiana Superdome. In 1983, his Saints almost had the first winning season and playoff berth in franchise history. The Rams beat the Saints for the final playoff spot in week 16, 26–24 on Mike Lansford's 42-yard field goal with 00:02 to play.

Phillips resigned as Saints coach on November 25, 1985, one day after a 30–23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings, 11 games into the season. His son, Wade, would take over the coaching reins on an interim basis for the remaining five games of the 1985 season.

Later life and family

Phillips later worked as a football color analyst for television and radio. He subsequently retired to his horse ranch in Goliad, Texas.

His son, Wade Phillips, has also held assistant and head coaching jobs in the NFL and was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys from February 2007 to November 2010. Wade was hired by the Houston Texans on January 5, 2011, as their new defensive coordinator almost exactly 30 years after his father was terminated by Oilers owner Bud Adams on December 28, 1980, after the Oilers failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs. Wade won a Super Bowl title at Super Bowl 50 with the Denver Broncos as defensive coordinator, and is now defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams who advanced to Super Bowl LIII.

His grandson Wes is also an NFL assistant coach.

In 2010, he published his memoirs, Bum Phillips: Coach, Cowboy, Christian.


Phillips died at his ranch in Goliad, Texas, on October 18, 2013, at the age of 90. He was survived by his second wife, Debbie, and six children from his first marriage along with almost two dozen grandchildren. The cause was not given. [2]

In honor of Bum Phillips coaching both Nederland and Port Neches-Groves High Schools, the rivalry game between his two favorite schools [3] will now be named the Bum Phillips Bowl.


Phillips was known for his trademark Stetson cowboy hat on the sidelines, except when the Oilers played in the Astrodome or other domed stadiums. He stated that his mother taught him not to wear a hat indoors; his former boss Bear Bryant similarly refused to wear his trademark houndstooth hat during indoor games. [4] Phillips wore his cowboy hat with blue jeans and a button down shirt, in contrast to Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry who wore a suit and tie with his trademark fedora. [5] [6]

Besides his trademark cowboy hat, Phillips is also known for his colorful quotes, such that Sports Illustrated noted that Wikipedia had a whole section of his page dedicated to these quips. In the week leading up to Super Bowl LIII, his son Wade was quoted as saying “Unfortunately, I get older but Tom Brady doesn’t,” while sporting the elder Phillip's sheepskin coat and cowboy hat as the Los Angeles Rams arrived in Atlanta. [7]

Head coaching record


Texas Western Miners (NCAA University Division independent)(1962)
1962 Texas Western 4–5
Texas Western:4–5


TeamYearRegular seasonPost-season
WonLostTiesWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
HOU 1975 1040.7143rd in AFC Central----
HOU 1976 590.3574th in AFC Central----
HOU 1977 860.5712nd in AFC Central----
HOU 1978 1060.5712nd in AFC Central21.667Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game.
HOU 1979 1150.6882nd in AFC Central21.667Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game.
HOU 1980 1150.6882nd in AFC Central01.000Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFC Wild-Card Game.
HOU Total55350.61143.571
NO 1981 4120.2504th in NFC West----
NO 1982 450.4449th in NFC----
NO 1983 880.5003rd in NFC West----
NO 1984 790.4383rd in NFC West----
NO 1985 480.333Resigned---
NO Total27420.39100.000
Total [20] 82770.51643.571

See also

Related Research Articles

Sid Gillman American football player and coach

Sidney Gillman was an American football player, coach and executive. Gillman's insistence on stretching the football field by throwing deep downfield passes, instead of short passes to running backs or wide receivers at the sides of the line of scrimmage, was instrumental in making football into the modern game that it is today.

Jerry Jones American billionaire businessman and owner of the Dallas Cowboys

Jerral Wayne "Jerry" Jones is an American billionaire businessman and has been the owner of the National Football League (NFL)'s Dallas Cowboys since 1989.

Tom Landry American football coach and player

Thomas Wade Landry was an American professional football player and coach. He was the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League (NFL), a position he held for 29 seasons. During his coaching career, he created many new formations and methods, such as the now popular 4–3 defense, and the "flex defense" system made famous by the Doomsday Defense squads he built during his tenure with the Cowboys. His 29 consecutive years from 1960 to 1988 as the coach of one team is an NFL record, along with his 20 consecutive winning seasons, which is considered to be his most impressive professional accomplishment.

Bud Adams American football executive, owner

Kenneth Stanley "Bud" Adams, Jr. was the owner of the Tennessee Titans, a National Football League franchise. He was instrumental in the founding and establishment of the former American Football League. Adams became a charter AFL owner with the establishment of the current Titans franchise, which was originally known as the Houston Oilers. He was the senior owner with his team in the National Football League, a few months ahead of Buffalo Bills' owner Ralph Wilson. Adams also was one of the owners of the Houston Mavericks of the American Basketball Association and the owner of the second Nashville Kats franchise of the Arena Football League. He was elected to the American Football League Hall of Fame, an online site, but as of 2018 is not a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, despite several nominations and an ongoing effort to make him such.

Earl Campbell Former professional American football running back

Earl Christian Campbell is an American former professional football player who was a running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Known for his aggressive, punishing running style and ability to break tackles, Campbell gained recognition as one of the best power running backs in NFL history.

Wade Phillips American football coach

Wade Phillips is an American football coach who most recently served as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL). He also served two stints as defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos, where his team was Super Bowl finalists in his first stint and champions in his second stint. He has served as head coach of the NFL's Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, and Dallas Cowboys. He was also an interim head coach for the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and the Houston Texans. His career winning percentage as a head coach is .546. Phillips is considered to be among the best defensive coordinators in the NFL. Multiple players under Phillips' system would win Defensive Player of the Year, including Reggie White, Bryce Paup, Bruce Smith, J. J. Watt and Aaron Donald, or Defensive Rookie of the Year, including Mike Croel and Shawne Merriman.

Joe Greene American football player and coach

Charles Edward Greene, better known as "Mean" Joe Greene, is an American former professional football player who was a defensive tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1969 to 1981. A recipient of two NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards, five first-team All-Pro selections, and ten Pro Bowl appearances, Greene is widely considered to be the one of the greatest defensive linemen to play in the NFL. He was noted for his leadership, fierce competitiveness, and intimidating style of play for which he earned his nickname.

The 1975 NFL season was the 56th regular season of the National Football League. It was the first NFL season without a tie game. The league made two significant changes to increase the appeal of the game:

  1. The surviving clubs with the best regular season records were made the home teams for each playoff round. Previously, game sites rotated by division.
  2. The league pioneered the use of equipping referees with wireless microphones to announce penalties and clarify complex or unusual rulings to both fans and the media.
1971 NFL season Sports season

The 1971 NFL season was the 52nd regular season of the National Football League. The season ended with Super Bowl VI when the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24–3 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. The Pro Bowl took place on January 23, 1972, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum; the NFC beat the AFC 26–13.

Gary Kubiak American football player and coach

Gary Wayne Kubiak is an American football coach and former player who is the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL). He served as head coach for the NFL's Houston Texans from 2006 to 2013 and of the Denver Broncos in 2015 and 2016 before stepping down from the position on January 1, 2017, citing health reasons. Earlier in his coaching career, he served as an assistant coach for the Broncos, Texas A&M University and San Francisco 49ers. He was also the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens in 2014.

Edward G. Biles was an American football coach whose most prominent position was as head coach of the National Football League's Houston Oilers from 1981 to 1983.

Robert Brazile American football linebacker

Robert Lorenzo Brazile Jr. is a former professional American football linebacker in the National Football League (NFL). Nicknamed "Dr. Doom", Brazile played from 1975 to 1984 for the Houston Oilers and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.

Curley Culp Player of American football

Curley Culp is a former professional American football player. An offensive and defensive lineman, he played college football at Arizona State University, was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion while at ASU, and played professionally in the American Football League for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1968 and 1969, and for the National Football League Chiefs, Houston Oilers, and the Detroit Lions. He was an AFL All-Star in 1969 and a six-time AFC–NFC Pro Bowler.

A coaching tree is similar to a family tree except that it shows the relationships of coaches instead of family members. There are several ways to define a relationship between two coaches. The most common way to make the distinction is if a coach worked as an assistant on a particular head coach's staff for at least a season then that coach can be counted as being a branch on the head coach's coaching tree. Coaching trees can also show philosophical influence from one head coach to an assistant.

"Luv Ya Blue" was a movement by fans of the Houston Oilers of the National Football League in the late 1970s that featured large flashcards, fight songs, pom-poms and other features more reminiscent of the college game than the NFL.

Tommy Marshall Maxwell is a former American football player. After playing college football at Texas A&M, he spent six seasons playing in the NFL. In his second season, he helped the Baltimore Colts win Super Bowl V.

History of the Houston Oilers Former American football club in Houston, Texas, USA

The professional American football team now known as the Tennessee Titans previously played in Houston, Texas as the Houston Oilers from its founding in 1960 to 1996 before relocating to Memphis, and later Nashville, Tennessee becoming the Titans. The Oilers began play in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). The team won two AFL championships before joining the NFL as part of the AFL–NFL merger in the late 1960s.

<i>Bum Phillips</i> (opera) opera

Bum Phillips is an opera in two acts by American composer Peter Stopschinski. Kirk Lynn wrote the English language libretto based on Bum Phillips' memoirs Bum Phillips: Coach, Cowboy, Christian. The opera was conceived by theater director Luke Leonard and commissioned by Monk Parrots, Inc. as described in a 2014 Sports on Earth article titled "A Night at the Bum Phillips Opera".


  1. Barron, David (October 18, 2013). "Houston icon Bum Phillips dies". Houston Chronicle . Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  2. "Colorful former Oilers coach Bum Phillips dies at 90". WABC TV. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  3. "Bum Phillips trophy adds new element to Mid-County Madness". Archived from the original on December 27, 2016. Retrieved December 27, 2016.
  4. Fowler, Ed (1997). Loser Takes All: Bud Adams, Bad Football, & Big Business. Longstreet Press. pp. 48–49. ISBN   1-56352-432-5.
  5. https://thelandryhat.com/2013/11/06/cowboys-flashback-bum-vs-tom-texas-icons-last-battle/
  6. https://www.gettyimages.ca/photos/bum-phillips?sort=mostpopular&mediatype=photography&phrase=bum%20phillips
  7. https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2019/01/28/monday-hot-clicks-wade-phillips-dad-bum-coat-super-bowl
  8. Fowler, Ed (1997). Loser Takes All: Bud Adams, Bad Football, & Big Business. Longstreet Press. p. 57. ISBN   1-56352-432-5.
  9. Fowler, Ed (1997). Loser Takes All: Bud Adams, Bad Football, & Big Business. Longstreet Press. p. 45. ISBN   1-56352-432-5.
  10. "Toward Super Bowl: Oilers' Trek Just Beginning". The Victoria Advocate . Victoria, Texas. Associated Press. December 12, 1979. p. 5B. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  11. Cook, Ron (March 26, 1999). "Bum Phillips among carvers at Noll's roast". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette . Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  12. Anderson, Dave (November 1, 1992). "At Age 62, Don Shula Is Still Going Strong". The New York Times . Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  13. Harvey, Randy, Legendary coach Phillips didn't let football define a full life, Houston Chronicle (October 19, 2013). Retrieved on October 23, 2013.
  14. Wesseling, Chris (June 10, 2013). "Houston Oilers legend Bum Phillips' life as an opera?". Around the League. NFL . Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  15. Excerpt from Bum Phillips's speech at the Astrodome on January 7, 1980 on YouTube. Retrieved on October 21, 2013.
  16. Barron, David, Houston icon Bum Phillips dies, Houston Chronicle (October 18, 2013). Retrieved on October 22, 2013.
  17. Goldstein, Richard, Bum Phillips, Homespun Coach Behind Oilers' Rise, Dies at 90, The New York Times (October 19, 2013). Retrieved on October 22, 2013.
  18. Reitmann, Tom (March 24, 1994). "K.U. is wary of Purdue". Indianapolis Star . p. E1. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  19. Katzowitz, Josh, Former Oilers, Saints coach Bum Phillips dies at 90 (October 18, 2013). Retrieved on October 22, 2013.
  20. Bum Phillips Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks - Pro-Football-Reference.com