“He changed my life;” the impacts of Coach Bob Tyler on his time at Meridian from 1965-67

Highlight coach Bob Tyler's career with the Wildcats in the late '60's.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 11:34 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - To quote John Wooden, “A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life.” That statement could not be more true when referencing former Meridian head coach Bob Tyler.

Coach Tyler was born July 4, 1932 in Water Valley, Mississippi. He started his coaching career at Water Valley High School. He was hired at Meridian in 1965.

”Quite frankly he changed my life,” said Grady Coleman, 1967 graduate and wide receiver who went on to play at Delta State and with the Kanas City Chiefs (1970).

Many wildcats will say the same. Coach Bob Tyler had away of leaving his mark on his players.

Morris Stamm, 1969 graduate and strong safety said, “It wasn’t just x’s and o’s it was more like determination. And what you can do with what abilities you have.”

Coach Bob Tyler was the head coach of Meridian from 1965-1967. He led the Wildcats to a 38-0-1 record and two Big Eight State Titles. One of those championships in 1967 with the first undefeated class since 1943. But he was not your normal coach. He was young. He was calm but he was wise beyond his years.

“He was ahead of his time from that standpoint,” said Coleman. “We did throw the ball a lot and we were very effective with it too, you know.”

Former assistant coach Charles Garrett said, “His offensive mind was ahead of the game as far as the high school in Mississippi. He did a great job. He could recognize talent. Get him in the right places and he just had a good mind about the passing game.”

Coach Tyler and his staff had developed a strong passing game to help lead them to their winning record and it worked.

John Flemming, 1969 graduate and defensive end said, “He was a very much of a pro style quarterback type of coach. What he did is he got the best receivers and the fastest guys and sent him straight down the field. And he told bob white to just log. The ball just put it in the air, get as much air in it as you can and your receivers will find the ball. And that’s exactly what they did.”

That was the secret to his offense. And it worked. He was named big 8 coach of the year in 1966 and 1967. He also went on to coach at Ole Miss, Alabama, Mississippi State and North Texas. But he had a way with his lessons off the field.

“I always thought that our team was an extension of our coaches,” said Sam McCorkle, 1968 graduate and center. “Coach Tyler no doubt was a good football coach and he had a way of putting confidence in you that made when you stepped on that field. There was a question who was going to win, you know, it was how much?”

Coach Tyler was inducted in the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 2022 and is still one of the greatest of all time.

Coach Garrett said, “It was fun, it was easy and probably the most enjoyable years I spent was right here at Ray Stadium.”

To read more about his induction into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame click here.