Legendary coaches a part of five-member 2021 class
HOUSTON – Legendary University of Houston head coaches Guy V. Lewis and Bill Yeoman have been selected to the Houston Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2021, presented by PNC.
The pair joins three other Houston icons – Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Andre Johnson – as a part of the 2021 induction class. The inductees will be celebrated on April 26 at the Carlton Woods Creekside Fazio Golf Course.
As the Cougars’ men’s basketball head coach from 1956 to 1986, Lewis assembled a resume that featured a 592-279 record, five NCAA Final Four appearances, including three straight from 1982 to 1984, six Southwest Conference championships, 14 NCAA Tournament appearances and 17 postseason berths.
Known for his red and white polka-dotted towels, Lewis coached some of the greatest names in Houston and college basketball history, including Elvin Hayes, who was the 1968 National Player of the Year, and All-Americans Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in the early 1980s as part of the legendary Phi Slama Jama teams
In 1996, those three players were named part of the NBA’s Top 50 Greatest Players list, making Lewis and North Carolina’s Dean Smith the only head coaches to work with three players from that illustrious group in college.
Hayes (1990), Drexler (2004) and Olajuwon (2008) capped their careers with enshrinement in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Lewis joined his three most famous players with his enshrinement in 2013. He was also inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
Lewis’ influence continues to be felt off the court to this day. In 1968, he was the architect of the Game of the Century between No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Houston.
That game drew more than 52,000 fans inside the Houston Astrodome. It was the first regular-season college basketball game to be televised nationally and demonstrated the nationwide (and soon-to-be) worldwide popularity of college basketball on television and in large arenas.
While his coaching career earns the most attention, it is easy to forget that Lewis was a talented student-athlete for the first two Houston teams in school history. He was a co-captain of Houston’s first two teams and was a two-time All-Lone Star Conference First-Team selection.
He remains the only person in Houston Athletics history to be inducted into the Hall of Honor as both a student-athlete and as a coach. Lewis passed away in 2015 at the age of 93.
The first representative from the University of Houston to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Yeoman served as the head coach for the Cougars’ football program for a remarkable 25 seasons (1962-86). His 160 victories are the most in Houston’s history.
With 17 winning seasons, Yeoman was the man responsible for turning the University of Houston Football program from relative obscurity into national prominence in two-and-a-half decades. He guided the Cougars to four Southwest Conference championships and 11 bowl games, posting a 6-4-1 mark in postseason competition.
Off the field, Yeoman played a key role early in the integration of college athletics with the signing of running back Warren McVea in 1964 as the Cougars’ first African-American Football student-athlete.
Well known as an innovator on the playing field, Yeoman’s greatest legacy may be the invention of the Veer Offense, an offense that gave opponents fits throughout his coaching years and had a tremendous impact not only in the Southwest Conference but the entire nation as well.
For three straight years Houston led the nation in total offense, averaging 437 yards a game in 1966, 427 in 1967, and 562 in 1968. The 1968 total was an NCAA record at the time. Houston also led the nation in scoring with 42.5 points a game that year.
Yeoman was also a member of the Southwest Conference Hall of Honor, Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Champions. In 2002, Yeoman received the Paul Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award. Yeoman passed away in Aug. 2020 at the age of 92.
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