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Goliad, TX

Ex-NFL coach Oail Andrew 'Bum' Phillips died Friday at the age of 90 in his ranch in Goliad, Texas.

He spent six seasons as the coach of the Houston Oilers from 1975 to 1980 and five seasons with the New Orleans Saints from 1981 to 1985.

Born Sept. 29, 1923, in Orange, Tex., he played football at Lamar College (now Lamar University) in Beaumont, Tex., served in the Marines during World War II, then played for Stephen F. Austin State College (now Stephen F. Austin State University) in Nacogdoches, Tex. He graduated in 1949, then coached football at Texas high schools.

Phillips coached as an assistant at colleges in the Southwest, including a stint under Bear Bryant at Texas A & M, and he was head coach at Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) in 1962.

He was hired as a defensive assistant with the San Diego Chargers in 1967 when Sid Gillman was their head coach, and became Gillman's defensive coordinator with the Oilers in 1974.

When Phillips succeeded Gillman as head coach and general manager a year later, Phillips was charged with rebuilding a downtrodden franchise. His 3-4 defense — three down linemen and four linebackers — proved effective against the run as well as the pass. Wade Phillips became his assistant in charge of the defensive line and linebackers.

Making the playoffs as a wild-card team, the Oilers lost to the eventual Super Bowl champions Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1978 and '79 season American Football Conference championship games, and in 1980 to the Raiders, that led to his firing.

In 1981 Phillips was hired as coach and general manager of the New Orleans Saints, who had gone 1-15 the previous season. The Saints nearly made the 1983 playoffs, but Phillips could not produce a winning team in his four-plus seasons.

He resigned in 1985 with three years left on his contract and the Saints at 4-8. His son, Wade, his defensive coordinator, finished out the season as head coach.

Phillips had a record of 55-35 with the Oilers and he was 27-42 with the Saints.

He was later a TV and radio analyst for the Oilers and owned a ranch in south Texas near Goliad. He also a spokesperson for several companies such as Spectrum Scoreboards, Texas State Optical and Blue Ribbon Sausage.

He is survived by his wife, Debbie, whom he married in 1990, and six children from a previous marriage. His only son, Wade, is the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans and a former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills. His other survivors include five daughters and nearly two dozen grandchildren.

 

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