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2017 GRIDIRON LEGEND: EMORY BELLARD

Deemed to have had one of the most advanced offensive minds in football, notable head coach Emory Bellard was selected by the Greater Houston Football Coaches Association to receive this Gridiron Legend honor. The Luling, Texas native is credited for inventing the Wishbone Offense, regarded as the most dynamic and groundbreaking offensive schemes in college football during the 1970s and 1980s. Bellard was a running back at the University of Texas his freshman year, but broke his leg the next season. Due to his injury and the return of players from World War II, he transferred to Southwest Texas State, which is now Texas State University. His tenure of 21 seasons as a head coach started at Ingleside High School in Ingleside, Texas, where he coached from 1952 to 1954. Bellard then moved on to Breckenridge High School, a powerhouse in the state in the second-highest UIL classification. During his time there from 1955 to 1959, he led the team to two state championships (1958, 1959). Bellard won another state championship in 1966 during his tenure at San Angelo Central High School, which spanned from 1960 to 1966. After an impressive high school coaching career, he made the jump to the collegiate level where he also succeeded. Bellard was hired as linebackers coach for the University of Texas in 1967. From 1968 to 1971, Bellard was their offensive coordinator, and during this time established and applied the wishbone formation. This system, also known as the triple-option, helped the Longhorns win 30 games in a row and a national championship in 1969. Other teams, such as powerhouses Alabama and Oklahoma, began adopting the wishbone offense. From 1969 to 1979, seven national championships were won or shared by teams that implemented this scheme. Bellard left the Longhorns to become Texas A&M’s head coach from 1972 to 1978. He led the Aggies to a 48-27 record during his tenure, which included three top-15 finishes and three consecutive bowl games. He resigned midway through the 1978 season and then became the head coach at Mississippi State in 1979, where he stayed until 1985. Bellard led the Bulldogs to a record of 79-85 and they twice finished in the top 20 in the polls. After his time at Mississippi State, he returned to the high school level, where he coached Spring Westfield High School from 1988 to 1993, making his overall high school coaching record 177-59-9. Bellard passed away on February 10, 2011 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He is survived by his wife, Susan, and his son, Bob, who coaches high school football in Texas. His family will receive the honor in his name.

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