Feb. 4, 2013
P.W. Underwood Passes Away
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The following individuals are quoted on the life of former Southern Miss football player and coach P.W. Underwood, who passed away this morning at the age of 81:
Jeff Bower, Former Golden Eagle Coach/QB under Underwood (1973-75)
"The two things I most admired about coach Underwood was one, what a great family man and a great father he was to his two sons. Also, he had a fierce loyalty to this university and I cannot think of anyone that was more loyal to this university both as a player and a coach as well as a supporter. He made tremendous contributions to Southern Miss and he will be greatly missed."
Joe Bryant, Former M-Club President/Player for Underwood (1974)
"He was one of the most dedicated former players and coaches that this university has ever had. He loved the University to the very end. He was literally a second father to so many. It did not matter if you were a star player or were on the bench, it did not matter. You were one of his boys. No one ever played for him that at one point during their career said that he just scared the heck out of them, but you knew deep down inside that he loved you. He did it to make you better."
The late Ace Cleveland (former Southern Miss Sports Information Director)
Described Underwood in the 1974 Southern Miss football media guide as "Devoted family man, talented, tough, fair and dedicated coach. That's how to describe Golden Eagle coach P. (Pride) W. (Work) Underwood."
Rick Cleveland, Executive Director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
"P.W. is known mostly for the 1970 victory over Ole Miss and Archie Manning, but he should be remembered as one of the greatest defensive coaches of his, or any, era of football. As Pie Vann's defensive coordinator, his defenses were nearly impenetrable."
Hamp Cook, Retired NFL Scout/M-Club Hall of Fame member
"P.W. has been a fixture of Southern Miss athletics for over 50 years not only as player, but also as an assistant coach and as a head coach for the University and will be strongly missed. As a player, he was someone who played with a love of the game and full speed all the time. As a coach, he had a love for the defensive side of the ball and taught his players how to play the game the right way by instilling technique and a strong desire to run to football."
Ray Guy, NFL Punter/Player for Underwood (1970-72)
"I cannot think of a better influence in not only on my life but in everyone that he came in contact. He was such a wonderful man. He was like a second father to me. We lost a great man, who meant so much to so many people. The foundation had already been established by Pie Vann and Reed Green, but when P.W. came in, he was the man that began to raise that foundation to see it become bigger and better."
Willie Heidelberg, Player for Underwood (1970-71)
"What comes to mind first was that he was a determined and dedicated coach that did everything that he could to make his players and his teams as good as they could be. In his later years I know he did whatever he could to promote Southern Miss and worked hard to make it better as well. I will always remember and be grateful that he gave a little 5-6, 150-pound guy from Pearl River Community College like me a chance to play Division I college football. He was a person that you could always count on to be there if you needed something. We will all miss him."
Richard Johnston, Former Teammate/Roommate/Former M-Club President
"Certainly as a teammate he was a one of a kind type of person. I was fortunate enough to play with him and he was a great teammate. He was quite a guy, quite a player and he always had some playful things that he would do. I always thought that if he could have worn glasses when he was blocking or trying to tackle he would have been better than he already was.
"As a coach I always really respected him. When he left I was proud for what he did at Auburn and I was glad to see him come back and be the head coach at his alma mater. I think the fact that he is responsible in bringing the first African-American on scholarship tells you the type of guy that he was. He was very passionate. Every place you went he was a person who was recognized as being first-class and he had a voice that didn't need a microphone. All Southern Miss fans and fans of football everywhere will miss him."