Gatlin was strumming triple-digit tune 45 years ago in Century City
Nowadays, Bill Yeoman would be accused of bullying. Dr. Phil would challenge him to come on his show and face his victims. Which, come to think of it, would include Dr. Phil.
According to the good doctor’s website, the warning signs of bullying include:
Makes up excuses not to go to school.
Is often angry, sad or depressed, withdrawn, self-loathing and emotionally erratic.
Gets beaten 100-6 in a football game.
Forty-five years ago this Saturday, that’s what Yeoman’s Houston team did to Tulsa.
"It was just one of those things," he said.
To be precise, it is the only one of those things. Never in modern college football history has another team scored 100 points.
Such things only happened in prehistoric times. Like Georgia Tech’s 222-0 squeaker over Cumberland in 1916. SMU jumped to a 3-0 lead over Rice that same year, only to see the Owls go on a 146-0 run.
Rules changed, society progressed, chemical weapons were banned. No other Division 1 FBS school has put a triple-digit number on another. Making it an even 100 points raises it to mythical levels, like when Wilt Chamberlain did it in Hershey, Pa.
There were 4,218 fans there, though over the years 4,218,000 people have claimed to have seen it. There were 34,089 at the Astrodome that day. That didn’t include Tulsa’s players, who may have actually attended.
"To score 100 points, that’s hard to do with no other team out there," Glenn Dobbs III said.
His father was Tulsa’s coach. Glenn Jr. was a football legend and a proud man. He did not run the kind of program you’d think would get the all-time football noogie. So what happened?
"It was just one of those things," Yeoman repeated.
He’s 85 now and has been retired for 25 years. Chances are nobody in Tulsa would recognize him, but Yeoman still has no plans to ever visit.
"That probably wouldn’t be a good idea," he said.
He insists he was more or less an innocent bystander that day. He played every scrub big enough to wear a jersey, including Larry Gatlin. Yes, that Larry Gatlin.
"He was a great guy," Yeoman said. "But he’s a much better country singer than he was football player."
What’s a coach to do?
Yeoman was actually a mad football scientist. The Veer Offense he concocted was hard for SEC teams to contain. The Cougars were ranked No. 11 and coming off a 77-3 win over Idaho.
Tulsa was an uncharacteristic 2-6 and trying to come off a flu epidemic that had swept campus. Fifteen starters were feverish and glassy-eyed. Only two defensive linemen made the trip. One passed out with an 102-degree fever.
The team doctor advised Dobbs to call the whole thing off. Backing out wasn’t Dobbs’ style. His teams had led the NCAA in passing from 1961-66. The rivalry with high-flying Houston grew hotter each year.
What we ended up with on Nov. 23, 1968, was the perfect storm of animosity, illness and a foot stuck on the accelerator.
"Coach Yeoman ran up the score," Dobbs III said. "They played their starters well into the third quarter. They were mad because we beat them the year before in Tulsa."
Not so, insists Yeoman.
"We had our third- and fourth-stringers in," he said. "But you can’t tell your kids, ‘Don’t try.’ You just can’t do that."
Houston dominated from the start, though it was only 24-0 at halftime. Tulsa’s locker room looked like a triage center. Players were strewn on the floor and getting wrapped in ice.
The Golden Hurricane actually scored on its opening drive of the second half. That didn’t sit well with the Cougars, who kept handing the ball to tailback Paul Gipson. He had 289 yards rushing before being pulled at the end of the third quarter.
By then, it was 51-6. Would scoring seven touchdowns in the next 15 minutes constitute bullying, Dr. Phil?
"Boy, I shut ’em down," he said. "I tell ya, nobody breaks a hundred on me."
He was recounting the story recently to David Letterman. Before Dr. Phil went bald, met Oprah and became America’s pre-eminent TV shrink, he was Phil McGraw, Tulsa linebacker/tight end.
There is no record of him making any tackles that day. There is no record of anyone from Tulsa making a tackle.
"I don’t think they put their heart into the contest," Yeoman said.
Their bodies could barely function by the fourth quarter. Still, it was only 86-6 with three minutes left. The triple-digit indignity seemed out of reach.
Then Gatlin ran past a gassed cornerback and caught a 25-yard touchdown pass. If the Golden Hurricane could have managed one first down, it could have run out the clock.
No such luck. Tulsa had to punt with 22 seconds left. Mike Simpson fielded the ball. Houston’s players and coaches started yelling at him. There are conflicting reports whether they were telling him to take a knee or kick Tulsa in the groin. Whatever, Simpson zigged-zagged 58 yards into the end zone.
"Make that kick! Make that kick!" the crowd screamed.
You’re up by 93 and it’s still a life-or-death boot? Terry Lieweke came through. Tulsa fans can still see it. Dobbs was at a home game a couple of years ago and saw students holding up a sign.
"Don’t Forget," it read.
They have probably signed Dr. Phil’s anti-bullying pledge:
Value student difference and treat others with respect.
Report honestly and immediately all incidents of bullying to a faculty member.
Support students who have been or are subjected to bullying.
Forty-five years later, it’s still not just one of those things.