Hall of Fame football coach Bill Yeoman, innovator of veer formation, dies at 92

Bill Yeoman, a standout lineman and teammate of Heisman Trophy winners Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis at Army, who would go on to shepherd the University of Houston into the top tier of college football as the Cougars' coach for 25 years, died Wednesday at age 92.

His son, Bill Jr., said Yeoman died of pneumonia and kidney failure.

Yeoman played his freshman season at Texas A&M in 1945 and then transferred to West Point. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Notre Dame and Army ruled college football, famously playing to a 0-0 tie in 1946.

The following year, after Blanchard and Davis graduated, Army line coach Herman Hickman named Yeoman as one of "three men I wouldn't even trade for any three Notre Dame linemen."

Yeoman captained Army in 1948 when the Black Knights went 8-0-1. In his three seasons at West Point, Army went 22-2-4 and spent only five weeks outside the AP top 10.

Yeoman took over as coach at Houston, then an independent, in 1962. He invented the veer offense, a triple-option attack similar to the wishbone. The ESPN College Football Encyclopedia quoted Yeoman as saying, "We stumbled upon it, really. Almost by accident."

Yeoman dared to recruit Black athletes before any major program in Texas, signing back Warren McVea to a scholarship in 1964. Between his recruiting and his offense, Yeoman created an offensive machine. The Cougars famously defeated Tulsa 100-6 in 1968, the first season they finished in the top 20 (18th).

"Coach Yeoman was a leader and visionary in our game," current Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said in a statement. "Not only was he a Hall of Fame coach, but also he brought our program to national prominence during his tenure. His legacy will live on in our program and will stand the test of time. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, former players and coaches."

Houston's success under Yeoman created a path to membership in the Southwest Conference. Houston won the SWC in its first season (1976), finishing 10-2 with a No. 4 national ranking. The Cougars won three more SWC championships (1978-79, 1984) under Yeoman.

He retired in 1986 with a record of 160-108-8. The College Football Hall of Fame enshrined Yeoman in 2001.

"For three decades, Coach Yeoman worked tirelessly to build the foundation and set the standard for success at the University of Houston," said Chris Pezman, vice president of athletics at Houston. "He was one of the most innovative minds in the history of the sport, securing his place in the College Football Hall of Fame. Coach Yeoman will always be beloved by his players and dedicated his life to helping them succeed on and off the playing field.

"... On behalf of the University of Houston Football family, we extend our deepest condolences to the Yeoman Family, and may we never forget his love, loyalty and dedication to Houston."