Wade Phillips – UTEP’s Super Bowl Connection You Won’t Find Anywhere Else (January 2019)

Wade Phillips, defensive coordinator, Los Angeles Rams
Wade Phillips, defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams

With the Super Bowl approaching on Sunday, we have a choice. We can either hide in the jungles of Brazil, or wade through a tidal wave of minutia regarding the Rams and Patriots.

It’s amusing to see how the press has “discovered” Wade Phillips, crowning him a defensive mind for the ages. During his head coaching nosedive with the Cowboys, the same media buried Phillips alive. For the purposes of this forum, you can skip over the fact Wade finished high school at Port Neches Grove on the Texas coast, then started three years at linebacker for University of Houston. Ever since, Phillips has taken a zig-zagging coaching journey to reach our living rooms via network TV. But let’s not side-step Phillips’ link to El Paso. It goes like so:

Bum Phillips, UTEP, Texas Western, 1962
Bum Phillips coached at UTEP (then Texas Western) in 1962. At the time, Bum and his wife Helen lived in a modest apartment on the first floor of Miners Hall.

Daddy Bum was coaching at UTEP (then Texas Western) in 1962, when he went out recruiting. Bum left an assistant to conduct the Miners’ off-season program, with a roster and cryptic note on how to handle any discipline problem.

Next to each player’s name was “run” or “run off.”

Translation: If a player was on the two-deep chart, his transgression would mean he would be required to run for punishment. If a kid was out of Bum’s favor, he would meet the other fate … Run, or run off.

At the time, Bum and his wife Helen lived in a modest apartment on the first floor of Miners Hall. The storied old structure with good bones and a questionable past has long since been remodeled to offices and lecture rooms. (More on that later.)

To cap this tale, young Wade Phillips, then 15 but now 71, lived in this apartment located next to the first-floor dorm room occupied a few years later by the late Ed Puishes. If you know your Miners lore, Eddie was a splendid WR who still ranks in the top 10 pass receivers in school history.

Eddie roomed with an offensive lineman from Midland Lee and, together, they lived 15 feet from where NFL royalty once lived. Eddie’s roommate? Take a guess.

by Mark S. McDonald Sr., executive editor and author of Beyond The Big Shootout – 50 Years of Football’s Life Lessons, available soon at BeyondTheShootout.com.

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