“Because she is too ugly to kiss goodbye.”
— BUM PHILLIPS (former NFL coach, when asked by sportscaster Bob Costas why he brings his wife on road trips).
Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips (born September 29, 1923) is a retired American football coach and the father of Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. “Bum” Phillips coached at the high school, college, and professional levels.
Phillips played football at Lamar College (now Lamar University) in Beaumont, Texas, but enlisted in the United States 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 Jacksonville, Amarillo High School, Port Neches–Groves, and in his hometown of Nederland.
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. He was the head coach at the University of Texas at El Paso for one season in 1962.
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 served in that capacity through 1980. As coach of the Oilers, he became the winningest coach in franchise history (59-38 record). He was known for his trademark 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 fedora during indoor games.) Under Phillips, the Oilers reached the AFC Championship Game in two consecutive seasons, losing to the Super Bowl-champion 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 Houston and Pittsburgh 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 like 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.
He later worked as a football color analyst for television and radio. Phillips has since retired to his horse ranch in Goliad, Texas.
Bum has endorsed his own brand of sausage and also has served as the spokesman for Spectrum Scoreboards. Bum was also a spokesman for Texas State Optical (TSO), a regional chain of prescription eyewear retailers, during part of the ‘90s. He has been a spokesman for Hearing Aid Express, a Texas based hearing-aid company since 2001.
His son, Wade Phillips, was 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. He was hired by the Houston Texans on January 5, 2011 as their new defensive coordinator almost 30 years after his father was terminated by Bud Adams on December 28, 1980, after the Oilers failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
In 2010, he published his memoirs, Bum Phillips: Coach, Cowboy, Christian.