For those of you who do not know, Guy Morriss, TAMUC Football coach from 2009-2012, has been diagnosed with Alzhiemer’s Disease. Reading from an article that I will put at the bottom of this post, Coach Morris started to have problems about 4 years ago while still in Commerce and then moved back to Kentucky, where he had been the head coach at The University of Kentucky to coach offensive line at a Lexington Christian School. My heart has been somewhat heavy because I have so many feelings about this, and I wanted to share my sentiments.
Guy Morriss is one the most underrated college football coaches ever. He went to programs to rebuild them. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but Guy Morriss never took a job in a place where he did not want to be. He was never in the game to be a head coach in a stylish and sexy program. For Morriss, it was always about his players first and the school he was coaching. When Guy Morriss arrived with Hal Mumme and Mike Leach at UK, their program was a total dumpster fire, but they had a plan. Mumme recruited, Leach created the offense, and Morriss built the line blocking scheme that helped Tim Couch shatter records and become a top NFL draft pick and helped Jared Lorenzen set school records and become a top QB. When Mumme left Kentucky and left in his wake a plethora of sanctions and penalties, Morriss took over UK’s Football program in 2001. After a rough start at 2-9 in his first season, he turned the program around in 2002 going 7-5.
Seeing how Morriss had operated, Baylor opted to reach out to the native Texan and offer him the head job at Baylor, but much like the Bluegrass miracle, Morriss ran into a string of bad luck at Baylor. There were numerous seasons that got derailed by having to suspend players, having key players injured, plus an apathetic fan base led to him leaving Waco in 2007 in favor of Art Briles. Briles would find that quite a bit of the fruits he bore at Baylor were in part due to Morriss. Morriss recruited many of the players in Art Briles first 2-3 seasons that were used to bring Baylor back to being competitive. He also was one of the Men who was responsible for getting funds to get Baylor a new Football facility and put out the idea that Baylor needed to replace the aging Floyd Casey Stadium and sell a new facility to alums and recruits. Briles may have cooked the meal, but Guy Morriss bought a lot of the groceries when it comes to Baylor’s newfound successes.
When Coach Morriss was hired in Commerce, I was excited and had high hopes. The 2009 season showed that the TAMUC could compete. I only got to see two games that year, the Overtime loss to Abilene Christian at the Cotton Bowl, and the win against Southwestern Oklahoma and when they brought out the North Division Title trophy, I saw great things on the horizon for my alma mater. Also, at Homecoming, he did something would become a huge favorite of many alums. Morriss’s father was an ET alum and had been on campus during the early fifties. Prior to the homecoming game, Morriss said he felt that his program was in the middle of “an identity crisis.” So, the Lions walked out of the tunnel against Central Oklahoma with the name EAST TEXAS striped across their chest along with ET helmet decals. It was a reminder that this team was representing a program that had won over 20 conference titles and is one the most storied programs in all of Division II Football. The win that day over the Bonchos started a run where the Lions would go 5-1 the rest of the way and win the LSC North.
While the rest of his time in Commerce was not championship material, Morriss saw our formerly one sided stadium that was aging morph into a super modern Division II stadium with the best of everything. For the first time, there was reserved seating, video scoreboards, and a lot of promise. Morriss also recruited the heck out of the program. Finally, when his time was done, he stayed on to help the transition with a new AD and brand new coaching staff, putting pride to the side to do whatever he could to usher back in the winning culture that is Texas A&M-Commerce athletics.
Finally, Guy Morriss is one of the best men I have ever met. When I first started the blog, I interviewed him after the Spring game in 2012. He asked me what I was writing for and he not only encouraged me, he taught me about the spread offense and how his philosophy came about working with Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, and how to combine wide open passing attacks with power running. The way he treated me with so much good old fashioned Texas mannerisms and an encouragement for what I was doing meant the world to me. A man who had led two major college Football programs sat down for over an hour to discuss Football with guy he had never met prior to that.
Coach Morriss has a long road ahead, but I believe in prayer and in a God who can do powerful and supernatural things. Sending our prayers and love to Coach Morriss and his wife Jackie is the least we can do. He was a part of this community for 5 years, and did what he could and everything he knew to make Commerce a better place.
I remember in 2012 after the Lions went down to San Antonio and gave a Division I FBS school all they could handle, at the presser, a reporter asked UTSA coach Larry Coker if he was surprised that Commerce gave them such a good game. Coker replied, “Not at all, Guy Morriss is a very good football coach.”
And an even better man.
Lion Nation prays for you Coach Morriss. We are with you.
Link to the Article-http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/19441748/former-kentucky-baylor-coach-guy-morriss-alzheimers