This summer the TU family lost one of its most prolific members.
Tommy Hudspeth, a long time fixture in the Tulsa football community, died this July at the age of 83 in Tulsa.
Star-football player, class president, assistant coach, athletic administrator, fund-raiser extraordinaire: Tommy Hudspeth has worn many hats during his long tenure at the University of Tulsa.
Hudspeth came to TU from Afton, Oklahoma in 1949 where he became a star defensive back on the highly successful Tulsa football teams of the early 1950s which compiled a 26–5–2 record between 1950 and 1953.
His role as a leader of the football team was only the start of Hudspeth’s long relationship with the university.
After serving two years in the Air Force after graduation and coaching high school ball, Hudspeth returned to TU as an assistant coach in 1957. He stayed at TU until 1960 when he left to become an assistant in the Canadian Football league.
Hudspeth’s career then meandered to Brigham Young University—where he won the school’s first conference championship— to the University of Texas El Paso, to the Detroit Lions of the National Football League.
Hudspeth would return to Tulsa again in the 1980s, serving first as the president of the Golden Hurricane Club and later formally rejoining the university in the office of athletic development.
That Hudspeth left a mark on TU is witnessed by the number and longevity of the references to him in the pages of the Collegian archives, with his name appearing over 100 times in total and over seven decades, from his arrival in 1949 to his interview with the Collegian for homecoming in 2012.
These articles speak not just of a football player, coach or administrator, but of a role model, a joker and a friend.
A Collegian profile of him published on November 14 1952 marveled at how Hudspeth—know as ‘Hots’ to his teammates—managed to juggle academics, football, ROTC, fraternity life, and being senior class president, a role he won despite apparently not running a campaign. The picture published with the article, showing Hudspeth holding the various hats representing his roles at TU, encapsulates not just his time as a student, but his lifelong relationship with the university.
In the 1950 season, an injured Hudspeth was forced to miss a game against the University of Detroit. The Collegian’s sports section the next week mused that “you never miss the water ‘til the well runs dry”, and that “Tommy Hudspeth was the water last week”.
For over sixty years, Tommy Hudspeth has been the water for so many in the TU community, and he will be missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.