UIL 100 Years: Emory Bellard

Every Tuesday & Friday, we dive into the archives, the record books, the people, events and things that shaped the world of UIL Football in the past 100 years in Texas. 

He played his high school football at the tail end of World War II and had a stellar career as a running back at Aransas Pass before graduating in 1946. Emory Bellard would go on to play under Texas Longhorns coach Dana Bible for two years before transferring to Southwest Texas State to finish off his collegiate career.

Emory Bellard is known as the father if the Wishbone offense. | Photo courtesy of the SA Express-News

Emory’s coaching career began when he was hired in as an assistant under Ox Emerson, who played with the Portsmouth Spartans (later relocated to become the Detroit Lions) and Brooklyn Dodgers. Emerson would then get hired on as the head coach of the Ingleside Mustangs for the 1952, 53 and 54 seasons. His offense was a direct influence of what Emerson ran at Alice. While at Ingleside, Bellard would lead to the Mustangs to two 12-0 seasons with two Class B regional titles. The two round playoffs were as far as the format allowed under the Class B structure at the time.

In 1955, Bellard would move on to coach Breckenridge taking over for Joe Kerbel. The Buckaroos were just coming off of three state championships in four years under Kerbel and Cooper Robbins. Kerbel would later on become the second winningest coach in West Texas A&M history.

Among his offensive influences at the time came from Charles “Spud” Cason. Cason had an offense he called the “Monnig T”, an adaption of the T formation offense, which was designed to allow a slow fullback to play faster. Taking what he learned from Cason and Emerson, Bellard over the years would develop what we know today as the Wishbone offense.

In 1958 and 1959, Breckenridge under Bellard, would win two more state championships and those state championships would be the last time any school has ever won the title on their home field.

In 1960, Bellard was hired as the head coach of the San Angelo Central Bobcats replacing Robert Harrell. The other finalist for the job was a future legend in Gordon Wood. Shortly after being turned down for the San Angelo job, Wood would settle in Brownwood, where he would finish out his coaching career 25 year later with seven more state titles.

As the head man for the Bobcats, Bellard would compile a 59–19–2 record with a state championship in 1966. After leaving San Angelo in 1966, he would move on to become the offensive coordinator under Darrell Royal at the University of Texas.

In 1972, Bellard would move on to be the head coach at rival Texas A&M and then on to Mississippi State from 1979 to 1985. In 14 seasons as a college coach, Bellard would compile a record of 85-69.

Three years after his firing at Mississippi State, Bellard would return to high school coaching as the head coach of the Spring Westfield Mustangs for six seasons. His record at Spring Westfield would be 41–22–5. As a Texas High School Football coach, his overall record stands at a staggering 177-58-10 with three state championships.

Bellard is coined as the father of the wishbone formation offense.