Chuck Curtis, who won three consecutive high school state championships as a head coach, quarterbacked TCU to a 1957 Cotton Bowl victory against Syracuse and Jim Brown and was the last head coach for UT Arlington football, died Monday after an illness. He was 80.
Curtis led the Horned Frogs to Southwest Conference titles in 1955 and 1956, triggering an offense that included another TCU legend, running back Jim Swink. But it was Curtis who scored three touchdowns in a 28-27 victory over Syracuse and its future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back in the 1957 Cotton Bowl.
“He wanted the ball all the time, and I wanted to give it to him,” Curtis told the Cleburne Times Review in 2015. “It made my life easy.”
At TCU in 1955, Chuck Curtis completed 65 of 134 passes for 1,041 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in the Horned Frogs’ 8-3 season.
Curtis won 135 games in a high school coaching career that included the 2A state title at Jacksboro in 1962 and the 4A state titles at Garland in 1963 and ’64 thanks to a spread offense that was uncommon at the time.
He also coached at Holiday, Grand Prairie, Cleburne and Aledo, finishing 135-41-3 in 15 years as a high school coach.
It was murder to scout us because we had up to 50 formations. Chuck had the unique quality and skill of always placing the right player in the right position.
Jerry Cunningham, former assistant, on Chuck Curtis to the Cleburne Times Review
“In the 1960s, it was flamboyant to run the spread offense, but Chuck did,” Jerry Cunningham, a longtime assistant, told the Cleburne Times Review. “It was murder to scout us because we had up to 50 formations. Chuck had the unique quality and skill of always placing the right player in the right position.”
Curtis coached UT Arlington’s final two seasons, going 7-4 in 1984 and 4-6-1 in 1985.
He was offensive coordinator at SMU after the state titles at Garland.
He is a member of the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Curtis was born July 15, 1935, in Gainesville, where he played high school football and was recruited by TCU coach Abe Martin.
After TCU, he was drafted by the New York Giants in 1957. Among the team’s assistants in Curtis’ time there were Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry.