Longtime Lobo football coach finds place in Hall of Honor
Feb. 22, 2016 at 12:28 a.m.
Protruding out of the grass on a hot, spring day as the Lobos went through their spring bootcamp, his players, jogging in formation, saw it.
Doug Cox, back peddling ahead of the back, didn't see it.
"They all saw this concrete block, in between the track and the field, that was an electrical outlet," Cox recalled. "Well I was going backwards, hit that thing, rolled over and right back on to my feet.
"They all got a laugh out of hit. I didn't see them laugh at the time but they sure did get a kick out of it."
It was 1974, Cox's first year as the head football coach at Longview and the first year of what would become the "boot camp," an offseason regime that would draw coaches from all over to see.
"It was a real strict and disciplined time in our offseason," Cox said. "Whenever I see former players, they remember the boot camp quote and the Lobo pledge.
"They had to get everything right before we were through. It was a great team-bonding experience — that was the whole purpose."
In a career that spanned 35 years in education and coaching, one that included 100-plus wins on the football field, that's what Cox, who will inducted into the East Texas Coaches Association Hall of Honor on Saturday, says it was all about: the team.
"If it's an honor for me, it's not really about me. It's for the players, the coaches, the coaches' wives and everyone that did all the work it took to be successful," Cox said. "It's not about me, it's about us. That's what makes it special."
Special is another way Cox would describe his life as a football coach.
"I was blessed to work with a lot of great players and coaches," he said. "It's a fun life. I've told myself before that I don't feel like I ever worked. It didn't feel like a job. It was something I loved."
Despite the countless late nights and endless hours, it always came full circle for Cox.
"We all put in a lot of hours, as any coach does, but it was a labor of love," Cox said from his Longview home, a picture of a wolf on the wall over his shoulder. "There were a lot of proud, hard-working young men that came through here and to be a part of their lives, that's what was special to me."
Lining the walls in the upstairs hallway of his home, where you can often find him working in the yard, are Lobo team pictures. Each player in the photo has their thumbs raised, a tradition that Cox started in the early 70s that still runs to this day.
"Really the only way to describe it is family," Cox said of the Lobos' 'thumbs up' tradition. "It was a way of recognizing one another in the hallway to say good job, I'm proud of what we accomplished together."
Cox said his love of the game started early in his life. After being born in Denison when his family lived in southern Oklahoma — "My mother was determined I'd be a Texan" — Cox and his family moved to the Houston suburbs.
"I had a cousin, Lester, that lived nearby and every day after school we'd play football with some neighborhood kids that were a few years older than we were," Cox said. "That's where it got started."
Cox recalled a junior high game when he lived in Galena Park. He was starting at center and at quarterback was future Texas Longhorn Jerry Cook. Cox had an errant snap one play that sailed over Cook's head.
"He got in the huddle and said 'Don't ever do that again,'" Cox recalled. "I may not have blocked anyone the rest of the year, but I made dang sure I snapped the ball right into his hands every time."
After graduating from Pasadena High School in 1961, Cox went on to play at Wharton Junior College. After two championship seasons at Wharton, Cox played at Trinity University in San Antonio.
After graduation, Cox went into student teaching at Edison High School where a former Trinity football player served as head coach.
"We hit it off pretty well and he asked if I wanted to help with spring training," Cox said. "I thought it would be fun to be on the other side of the whistle so I went and helped out. After about a week, I was with the offensive line all by myself.
"That was it."
After a few seasons at Edison, Cox followed Clint Humphreys to Spring Branch.
"One spring, Clint came in and said he had a job offer from Odessa and from Longview and asked if I wanted to come along," Cox said. "And I said of course."
"The rest is history," Cox's wife of 50-plus years, Jane said.
After three years as an assistant at Longview, Humphreys made the move to the athletic director role and, in the fall of 1974, Cox would take charge as head coach of the Lobos.
And the rest was history, one that included a 120-34-4 record with eight district championships and nine playoff appearances.
It also began numerous traditions that still hold true over 40 years later. With the wins, losses and traditions, it was always about doing everything together.
"It was always away from the individual," Cox said. "Everything we did was about the team, about the Lobos."
Cox retired in 1987 after 35 years in academics and coaching. He and his wife, Jane, have two children and six grandchildren.
The former Lobo coach will be joined by Hall of Honor inductees Earl Campbell and former Texas High head coach and athletic director Watty Myers along with Al Hanna (Distinguished Service Award) and Grag Parhman (Officials Hall of Honor inductee).
The event is set for 6 p.m. at the ETCA Hall of Honor Banquet at Northridge Country Club in Texarkana.
Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h