Houston Cougars in the 1960s: Death Threats, the Veer Offense, and the Game of the Century

Houston Cougars in the 1960s: Death Threats, the Veer Offense, and the Game of the Century

Houston Cougars in the 1960s: Death Threats, the Veer Offense, and the Game of the Century

Houston Cougars in the 1960s: Death Threats, the Veer Offense, and the Game of the Century

Synopsis

On January 20, 1968, the University of Houston Cougars upset the UCLA Bruins, ending a 47-game winning streak. Billed as the "Game of the Century," the defeat of the UCLA hoopsters was witnessed by 52,693 fans and a national television audience--the first-ever regular-season game broadcast nationally.

But the game would never have happened if Houston coach Guy Lewis had not recruited two young black men from Louisiana in 1964: Don Chaney and Elvin Hayes. Despite facing hostility both at home and on the road, Chaney and Hayes led the Cougars basketball team to 32 straight victories.

Similarly in Cougar football, coach Bill Yeoman recruited Warren McVea in 1964, and by 1967 McVea had helped the Houston gridiron program lead the nation in total offense.

Houston Cougars in the 1960s features the first-person accounts of the players, the coaches, and others involved in the integration of collegiate athletics in Houston, telling the gripping story of the visionary coaches, the courageous athletes, and the committed supporters who blazed a trail not only for athletic success but also for racial equality in 1960s Houston.

Excerpt

Wade Phillips

They got to the University of Houston one year ahead of me. They were great athletes, all three of them. and they certainly proved it, changing the course of college football and basketball history. Looking back on that history, Warren McVea proved to be one of the greatest running backs in America in the mid-1960s, and you can’t say enough about what Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney did for college basketball in Houston, the state of Texas, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). “Wondrous Warren” put excitement into the game like few players before him; “the Big E” and “the Duck” taught basketball fans across America the meaning of the term dunk and displayed the strategy and ability to win the Game of the Century in Houston’s Astrodome.

The route to success required the normal pain and sacrifice that every coach from grade school to the pros talks about daily. But these great athletes experienced extraordinary pain and suffering far beyond that of their teammates, for they were the first African American scholarship athletes at an urban university still getting its figurative feet wet in the budding institution known as integration. I hailed from an all-white high school at Port Neches-Groves, east of Houston in the . . .

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