Monday, June 07, 2004

Coach Homer Rice

Coach Homer Rice is one of the names you will hear when the Veer offense is discussed. Coach Rice wrote one of the first books on the offense, "On Triple Option Football." It clearly explained the ideas behind the offense and how to implement it. I have his "Air Option" book which is also a good read. The interesting thing about the second book is that it has a few of the West Coast passing ideas in it. It would be a stretch to say that Coach Rice "invented" the West Coast Offense, however! He is often attributed to "inventing" the Veer due to his popular book, although he clearly gives Coach Bill Yeoman credit for the offense in the first page of his book. So don't blame Coach Rice if he's incorrectly credited with the Veer - He gave Coach Yeoman credit with it in the 2nd or 3rd paragraph.

What's so important about Coach Rice, you might ask. Well, for starters, he's a winner. His Fort Thomas Highlands football teams were as dominant over a 5 year period as any teams before or since. he continued his winning in the college ranks and into the pros. Coach Rice's last job was as Athletic Director at Georgia Tech. where he brought in many of the coaches that are bringing back the winning tradition to Tech. His book, Lessons for Leaders, has gotten great reviews from coaches and others tasked with assembling teams and motivationg people. All in all, Coach Rice is a remarkable man who, as a football coach, was ahead of his time in many aspects of the game.

Below is some information I hope helps you in finding out a little more about the man who wrote my introduction to the Split Back Veer Offense. If you have other sources, as always, send them to

Amazon book list :

Homer Rice Retires as Ga. Tech A. D. :

Homer Rice Info From Ga. Tech Website


It wasn't enough that, as a high school coach, Homer Rice won 1961's "Winningest Football Coach in America" Award. It wasn't enough that, as a college coach, he earned 1976's "Master of the Passing Game" Award and invented the triple-option offense. It wasn't enough that Homer Rice came to Georgia Tech and miraculously resuscitated the school's moribund athletic program, culminating in the 1990 National Football Championship. Because for Homer Rice, winning football games was never enough.
Rice has left an enduring mark on NCAA football, and on collegiate athletics in general, but perhaps his greatest achievement is his creation of the Student Athletic Total Person Program. Instituted at Georgia Tech, this program is now helping young men and women achieve their full potential at close to 200 other colleges and universities. Using his own story as a compelling case study, Rice shows in Lessons For Leaders how his innovative "Attitude Technique Philosophy leads to total success, whether on the gridiron or in any other of life's endeavors.
After serving in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Homer Rice returned to school and earned All-American honors as quarterback at Centre College meanwhile spending his summers playing catcher in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization. As a high school coach in the 1950's, he compiled a record of 101-9-7 and was named "Winningest Football Coach in American 1961". As a college coach, his development of the (veer) triple-option attack revolutionized offensive football. Dr. Rice served as athletic director at the University of North Carolina and at Rice University before being lured back to the sideline as the head coach of the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals in 1979. In 1980 Dr. Rice assumed the post of athletic director at Georgia Tech, where he was soon acclaimed as "the man who saved Georgia Tech athletics." He served as the first president of the NCAA Division 1A Directors of Athletics Association and was the recipient of the James Corbett award, the highest award given in the field of athletics administration. He retired from Georgia Tech in 1997
Rice's retirement marks a storied career which began in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. At Highlands High School, Rice was a decorated football, basketball, and track star. He played in the Brooklyn Dodgers organization as a catcher before serving in the Navy during World War II.
Following the war, Rice enrolled at Centre College, where he earned all-American honors as a quarterback. After graduating, Rice began his football coaching career in Tennessee and later ended up back at Highlands High. In 11 years at the high school level, Rice won an eye-popping 86 percent of his games. He parlayed his success into collegiate coaching jobs at Kentucky, Oklahoma, Cincinnati, and Rice…

Rice molded Highlands winning tradition
By Terry Boehmker, Post staff reporter
Thirteen football state championship trophies are arranged in a glass-enclosed case outside the entrance to the Highlands High School gymnasium.
The oldest ones in the collection date back to 1960 and '61 when the Bluebirds won back-to-back Class AA state championships under an innovative young coach named Homer Rice.
On Aug. 28, Rice will be honored during halftime of the St. Luke Hospital Champions Bowl for molding Highlands into one of the most successful high school football programs in Kentucky.
''He established the winning tradition at Highlands and set the standard for other teams to follow,'' said John Burt, a running back on Rice's two state championship teams. ''I think he had an influence on how the level of play escalated all over Northern Kentucky.''
Since the state football playoffs began in 1959, Northern Kentucky teams have made it to the state finals 33 times in 40 years and have a 33-17 record in championship games.
Highlands holds the state record with 13 state championships. And it all began with Rice, 72, who retired as Georgia Tech University's athletic director two years ago and still lives in Atlanta.
During his eight seasons as Highlands' head coach from 1954-1961, Rice compiled a 71-11-6 record, including three undefeated seasons. In addition to winning two Class AA state championships, his teams claimed five Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference titles.
''We didn't have a lot of kids in high school at that time,'' Rice recalled during a telephone interview. ''When I came there in 1954 our enrollment was around 200 students. But the kids we had (on the football team) adhered to the principles we tried to teach and they became champions for it.''
The eight years Rice spent at Highlands marked the beginning of a remarkable athletic career.
He was a coach and athletic director at several major colleges before joining the Cincinnati Bengals' coaching staff in 1978.
After the Bengals got off to an 0-5 start in 1978, Rice was promoted to head coach. The following season, however, he was replaced as head coach after the team finished 4-12.
Throughout his career, Rice said friends in Ft. Thomas kept him posted on the Highlands football program that will be gunning for yet another state title in 1999, the final season of the century.
''Naturally, I'm proud of what they've done,'' Rice said of the Bluebirds' winning tradition. ''They've taken it to a much higher level since I was there.''
Highlands finished 4-2-4 and 4-5-1 in Rice's first two seasons as head coach. He said the players on those teams had to adjust to his new style of coaching.
''A lot of critics were wondering about this new guy and what he was trying to do, but once the kids got into our program it paid off,'' Rice said.
''We got into weight-lifting, which no one else was doing in those days, and we ran and ran those kids until they were in great shape. We wanted a team that was lean, quick and fast.''
In 1957, Highlands won 11 straight games, including a victory over Massillon, a perennial power in Ohio.
Two years later, Highlands was runner-up in the first Class AA state playoffs. They lost to Henderson, 12-7, in the championship game after quarterback Roger Walz was ejected early in the first quarter.
Rice closed out his coaching career at Highlands with 24 straight wins and back-to-back Class AA state championships in 1960 and '61.
''I'd have to say that was due to the influence of Homer and his entire coaching staff,'' Burt said of the Bluebirds early success in the state playoffs. ''They were just great motivators.''
Rice said his practice sessions seldom lasted more than an hour, but he made sure every player knew their assignment and how to carry it out.
''There weren't any details that weren't touched on in preparation for a game,'' Walz said. ''Even the little points were covered very well.''
Rice's assistant coach during those successful seasons was Owen Hauck. Together, they designed formations and plays that allowed the Bluebirds to use quickness to defeat bigger, stronger teams.
''We did things like spread the (defensive) linemen so teams didn't know how to block against us and we developed some triple-option plays (on offense) that were new to just about everyone back then,'' Rice said.
''We just kept putting things together that we thought would work with the players we had.''
The Homer Rice Years
The Highlands football team compiled a 71-11-6 record, won two Class AA state championships and claimed five Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference titles under head coach Homer Rice. Here's a look at what the Bluebirds did each season:
1954 4-2-4 Upset NKAC leader Dixie Heights, 27-26, in final game of season.
1955 4-5-1 Most losses during Rice's eight seasons as head coach.
1956 8-2-0 Only losses were to Dixie Heights (21-20) and Newport (20-13).
1957 11-0-0 NKAC champs; capped first perfect record since 1930 with win over Danville (20-6) in the Rotary Bowl at Covington Holmes.
1958 9-1-1 NKAC champs; only loss to Louisville Flaget (20-7) in Rotary Bowl at Covington Holmes.
1959 11-1-0 NKAC champs; lost to Henderson (12-7) in first Class AA state championship game.
1960 0 12-0-0 NKAC champs; won Northern Kentucky's first state championship with 21-13 win over Lexington Lafayette in Class AA title game.
1961 12-0-0 NKAC champs; beat Richmond Madison in Class AA state title game.
Publication date: 08-19-99