The veer: Houston coach rode his offense to Hall of Fame

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 25, 2007 - 5:24 PM

Bill Yeoman's offense, also called the triple option, paved the way for the wishbone.

Former University of Houston coach Bill Yeoman said the impetus behind his creation of the veer offense in 1964 was fairly straightforward.

"Well, how do you like getting fired?" he asked, laughing.

His brainchild had just the opposite effect. Yeoman's veer became one of the most prolific offenses in college football and helped him win 160 games in 25 seasons and earn a place in the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Cougars led the nation in total offense from 1966 to '68 and finished first in scoring offense in 1968.

"Nobody could have more fun than we did," Yeoman said.

Yeoman said his team "fell into" the veer — or triple option — while preparing to face Penn State in 1964. The Cougars split their two running backs, one behind each guard, and saw something they liked in their blocking scheme.

The veer revolves around the quarterback being able to read defensive players and then make quick decisions to take advantage of mismatches or poor alignment. Sound execution often covers up athletic deficiencies.

"I wanted the quarterback to do a better job with his read than the tackle did with his defense," Yeoman said. "What precipitated this [offense] was, we didn't have the [talent] to go around blocking Ole Miss man on man. And Auburn and Penn State."

Houston, however, had talent at skill positions with the likes of quarterback Bo Burris, running backs Dick Post and Warren McVea and wide receiver Elmo Wright.

At 79, Yeoman doesn't doubt that he could have similar success with those players and his offense against defenses in today's college football.

"It's so open for the option now it defies description," he said. "They're running these silly schemes. They're doing all this 'get upfield' stuff. You don't get upfield with that offense. You hunker down on the line of scrimmage and make sure they don't make too much. When I see the way people are defending, they don't even know how to stop an option."

  • The NFL has the big-time passing offenses, but for sheer variety, creativity and unpredictability, nothing beats college football. From the single-wing formation Bernie Bierman employed during the Gophers' glory days to the spread attack that is taking today's game by storm, take a clipboard tour with staff writer Chip Scoggins, who spoke to a variety of former coaches about college football's most innovative offenses over the years.
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