American Football Database
Bum Phillips
File: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:
* Nederland HS (1951–1956)
Head coach
Head coaching record
Regular season:NFL: .516
Postseason:NFL: .571
Career:NFL: (.518)
NCAA: .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 30–24 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]

  • "There's two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired."[8]
  • "I always thought I could coach. I just thought people were poor judges of good coaches."[9]
  • "I've never seen a hammer and tong game like that one."
  • To a reporter who said, "He sure gets up slow", after Earl Campbell had been tackled. "Yes, but he goes down slow, too."
  • "The harder we played the behinder we got."
  • "Mama always said that if it can't rain on you, you're indoors." (Explaining why he wouldn't wear his cowboy hat in the Astrodome, the first domed stadium)
  • "Dallas Cowboys may be America's team, but the Houston Oilers are Texas' team."
  • "I never scrimmage Oilers against Oilers... what for? Houston isn't on our schedule." (Source: The Book of Sports Lists)
  • (To an official) "Hey, can I, can I tell you one thing? That's three holding penalties on one football team in a quarter and a half. (Pauses) That ain't funny."
  • (To an official) "Now, you can't do that! If you do it, I'm telling you you'll have more hell over it than a little bit."
  • (after playing the Steelers for the fifth time in two seasons and planning to meet them a sixth time) "The road to the Super Bowl runs through Pittsburgh, sooner or later you've got to go to Pittsburgh.[10]
  • (20 years after playing Pittsburgh six times in two seasons) "Don't take long to spend all the time you want in Pittsburgh."[11]
  • (referring to Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula) "He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n."[12] He also said the same line about Bear Bryant.[13]
  • (referring to Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon) "That boy could throw a football through a car wash and not get it wet."
  • (when asked about Oilers RB Earl Campbell's inability to finish a one-mile run in training camp) "When it's first and a mile, I won't give it to him."
  • (when asked by Bob Costas why he took his wife on all of the Oilers' road trips) "Because she's too ugly to kiss goodbye."[14]
  • (on January 7, 1980, to the crowd at the Astrodome that welcomed the Oilers home after their second consecutive loss to the Steelers in the AFC championship game) "One year ago, we knocked on the door. This year, we beat on the door. Next year, we're going to kick the son of a bitch in."[15][16][17]
  • (of Earl Campbell) "I don't know if he's in a class by himself, but I do know that when that class gets together, it sure don't take long to call the roll."[18]
  • Late one night, Phillips and Sid Gillman were watching film and Phillips began to doze off. Gillman woke him up by saying, "Hey Bum, this is better than making love." Phillips responded, "Either I don't know how to watch film, Sid, or you don't know how to make love." (Phillips later indicated that his language may have actually been stronger than that.)[19]
  • "Respect all. Fear none."
  • The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline."

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Texas Western Miners (NCAA University Division independent) (1962)
1962 Texas Western 4–5
Texas Western: 4–5
Total: 4–5
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


Team Year Regular season Post-season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
HOU 1975 10 4 0 .714 3rd in AFC Central - - - -
HOU 1976 5 9 0 .357 4th in AFC Central - - - -
HOU 1977 8 6 0 .571 2nd in AFC Central - - - -
HOU 1978 10 6 0 .571 2nd in AFC Central 2 1 .667 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game.
HOU 1979 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC Central 2 1 .667 Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC Championship Game.
HOU 1980 11 5 0 .688 2nd in AFC Central 0 1 .000 Lost to Oakland Raiders in AFC Wild-Card Game.
HOU Total 55 35 0 .611 4 3 .571
NO 1981 4 12 0 .250 4th in NFC West - - - -
NO 1982 4 5 0 .444 9th in NFC - - - -
NO 1983 8 8 0 .500 3rd in NFC West - - - -
NO 1984 7 9 0 .438 3rd in NFC West - - - -
NO 1985 4 8 0 .333 Resigned - - -
NO Total 27 42 0 .391 0 0 .000
Total[20] 82 77 0 .516 4 3 .571

See also


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named chron131018
  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".
  4. Fowler, Ed (1997). Loser Takes All: Bud Adams, Bad Football, & Big Business. Longstreet Press. pp. 48–49. ISBN 1-56352-432-5.
  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. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named vicad791212
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  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. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named nfl130610
  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. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named indst940324
  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 -

External links