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Bucs 50 years of History- Spotlight Coach Bud Bishop
September 20, 2012Hoover High School
Original Buc Line Coach Bud Bishop (1962-1965)
By Wayne Wood
The 2012 Buc contest vs. Minor has a bit of irony in that we are celebrating our 50th year of Buccaneer in the game. The original line coach for the Bucs in the early 1960's was Bud Bishop and he graduated from Minor 6 years previous to coming to coach at Berry.
The Hoover Buccaneer Football Program had its beginning in 1962 at the city's forst high school which at that time was called Berry High School (named for Colonel William Andrew Berry). The school started as an elementary school in 1959 and gradually matriculated into a high school over the course of the next few years.
One of the first coaches for the Bucs was Bud Bishop. His full name was Kenneth Rodney Bishop and due to his 5-6, 210 physical frame was nicknamed "Stump" but the nickname of "Bud" became more fitting through the years. Bishop graduated from Minor High School outside of Birmingham in 1956 where he played offensive and defensive guard. Unlike most southern boys who preferred a warm climate to play college he decided to play in the cold at the University of Wyoming for Bob Devaney as a defensive lineman.
After graduation in 1961, he went with Devaney to the University of Nebraska as the defensive line coach for a short time. Coach Devaney went on to have a great career for the Cornhuskers winning many games including some national titles and near championship misses and eventually college coaching hall of fame status. Bishop went on to go back home to the Birmingham area and into high school coaching.
His first job was as a 6th grade history teacher at Midfield Elementary School during the fall of 1961. At the time, there was a coach who worked under legendary coach Red Lutz by the name of Larry Wilson. Wilson graduated from Woodlawn High School in Birmingham and then attended nearby Howard College (now Samford University) through the 1950's and eventually taught and coached at Fairfield High School (a steel industrial area of Birmingham).
In the spring of 1962, Wilson was appointed to be the head coach of the young Berry High School. He asked Bishop (who became familiar with him at Fairfield) and Jimmy Johnson to be his assistant coaches. They worked that spring and summer developing the athletic facilities of a football field and stadium as well as a baseball field. WIlson and Johnson also worked in developing the first track and basketball programs while Bishop worked to develop the first wrestling and baseball programs for the Bucs.
The three men worked with dedicated parents and Jefferson County school people in starting the program from scratch and planned to start the fall of 1962 with a team of freshmen and sophomores. They would play a mixture of varsity and junior varsity teams on its schedule. Wilson worked with the offensive backfield while Johnson worked withe the wide receivers, ends and defensive backs. Bishop worked with both the offensive and defensive lines.
Bishop was still young and full of fire and energy. He explained, "I was a very intense and energetic coach always screaming and hollering. I'd shake them up in getting very physical with the players. Sometimes I'd put on a helmet and challenge them and other times I'd challenge them without a helmet. I had a famous slogan which said, 'He comes-I come' and they'd better be ready. Our boys responded to that method back then. I guess some people thought I was crazy but that was just my method and I loved it." It was Old School Football at its finest!
Bishop also taught physical education and as former male students will attest to it was very "physical" if you made certain mistakes. What he did in the 1960's would probably not be allowed today but back the it was and it worked. He and the coaches were the disciplinarians of the school. Clyde Yeilding was the head principal and Tom Gann was his assistant (Gann later became head). The administration and faculty would have the coaches implement any punishment necessary.
There were several fine football players for the Bucs during those early seasons such as the Kolen brothers and Bucky Howard who went on to play colllege. Every season from 1962-65 was a winning one as the program was establishing its foundation. One young coach who joined as a football assistant and head basketball coach in 1964 was Bob Finley. Finley later became head football coach in 1968.
Wilson left in 1966 and later became superintendant of Bessemer City School while Johnson went on to another job. Wayne Sims became head coach for 1966 and 1967.
Bud Bishop left in 1967 to coach at Murray State University in Kentucky for a brief time before returning to the Birmingham area to be head coach at Shades Valley High School from 1970-1976. After coaching, Bishop decided to go into private business.
He and his wife live in the Hoover area and their children and grandchildren also live in Hoover. Coach Bishop has a business in nearby Bessemer called Bessemer Fasteners & Supply, Inc. yet he still makes time to keep up with former coaching/teaching colleagues, players and friends he has accumulated through the many years.
Coach Bishop also kept up with the Berry and now Hoover Buccaneers through the years knowing that he was among those who helped develop the groundwork and foundation for the program 50 years ago. He's now 73 and is down about 40 pounds from what he once was but he still looks fit enough to take on and whip some players into shape and physical condition. If you don't believe it just ask some of his former Buccaneer players and they will agree.