Former Mississippi State coach Emory Bellard, one of the pioneers in developing the wishbone offense, died Thursday. He was 83.
Bellard had been battling Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).
“You’d think the guy who developed the wishbone would be all rough and tough, that he was a lot meaner than he really was, but Emory was a gentle guy,” said John Bond, who was Bellard’s quarterback at Mississippi State from 1980-83.
“He never cursed. He was just a great guy, a smart guy. He was a great player’s coach. Everybody loved him.”
Bellard, who developed the wishbone as an assistant at Texas under Darrell Royal in the late 1960s, was the head coach at Mississippi State from 1979-85. He tweaked the wishbone when he took over in Starkville and called it the wing bone, shifting one of the halfbacks up into a wing position.
“We had some athletes that we needed to get involved in the running game, and Emory put the wing in,” Bond said. “If you look at what Georgia Tech and Air Force are running now, it started right here with Emory.”
Bellard’s best season at Mississippi State was 1980 when the Bulldogs finished 9-3. They beat No. 1-ranked Alabama 6-3 that season, ending the Crimson Tide’s 28-game winning streak. That win more than 30 years ago still ranks as perhaps the greatest in Mississippi State football history.