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Former Coach: New Houston Texans coach David Culley’s long career included Southwestern Louisiana

Bobby Ardoin, Special to the Daily World, Posted on the Daily Advertiser, Feb. 1, 2021

FILE - This is an Aug. 17, 2020, file photo showing David Culley of the Baltimore Ravens NFL football team. David Culley has been hired as the coach of the Houston Texans, a person familiar with the hiring told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Wednesday night, Jan. 27, 2021, because the hiring hasn't been announced. (AP Photo)

Aug. 17, 2020, David Culley (AP Photo), The Associated Press

Click here for the 1985 Football Photo Gallery, where David is included as the QB Coach.

Click here for the 1987 Football Photo Gallery.

Sam Robertson was seeking an offensive assistant for his 1985 University of Southwestern Louisiana football team when he spotted a young, fellow Tennessean who was copiously scribbling notes during a national college coaching convention seminar.

David Culley, whose acumen Robertson was observing at the time, seemed an ideal addition for a USL (now Louisiana) staff which was navigating the program’s then difficult transition as a Division I independent in football.

Named Friday as the new coach of the NFL’s Houston Texans, Cullen already seemingly possessed an ascending reputation, experience and pedigree that Robertson said he was seeking as he restocked his staff for what would be his final season as USL coach.

Robertson, who left coaching 35 years ago to operate a successful Lafayette-area realty company located in the Oil Center, recalled that Culley, before he even reached USL, had already compiled a substantial coaching resume.

“(Culley) had been a quarterback at Vanderbilt, which meant that he was obviously a pretty smart guy and had served as an assistant there with Steve Sloan, who went on to coach at Alabama," said Robertson.

"I had Sloan’s high recommendation and those from several other college coaches that said Dave was very studious and would be a good addition for us. (Culley) had already coached at Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky as a quarterbacks coach in addition to receivers and running backs.”

That profile Robertson initially had compiled of Culley was apparently reinforced further as he saw Culley engaged in conversations with the lecturers at the coaching convention.

“I saw a coach who was inquisitive, that had a sharp mind and (Culley) was there in the middle of discussions with some of the most outstanding minds in college football at the time," Robertson said. "When he got to Lafayette, you could see Dave was the same way, very focused.

"I called around, liked what I heard and after Dave got to Lafayette, he proved to be everything I thought he would be. After he got here, we never looked back about hiring him."

Robertson added that Culley was also instrumental in recruiting quarterback Brian Mitchell, who was then a standout at Plaquemine High and later an NFL running back and return specialist.

“We saw that all the other schools who were recruiting Brian as a defensive back," Robertson said. "They saw (Mitchell) as a strong, muscular and athletic kid. Dave and I wanted him to play quarterback because of Brian’s overall athletic ability.

“Then the next year, after (USL) let me go, Nelson (Stokley) got (Mitchell) to come over here and Dave was his quarterbacks coach.”

Mitchell, who owns numerous Louisiana all-time offensive records, became another in a long line of athletic quarterbacks the Cajuns had during a two-decade era, beginning with Notre Dame transfer Roy Henry in 1975 and continuing with Lafayette High standout Dwight Prudhomme and Donnie Wallace, whom Culley coached during the 1985 season.

Culley left Lafayette in 1988 to become offensive coordinator at Texas-El Paso. He later joined the staff of R.C. Slocum at Texas A&M. before embarking on a NFL career that started in 1994 with Tampa Bay.

Culley, 65, had been the assistant head coach of the Baltimore Ravens the last two years, but Robertson said it was Culley’s association with Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid when they were with the Philadelphia Eagles that helped him land the Texans’ job.

“Over the years I had kind of lost track of (Culley), but we reconnected again after he was on Andy Reid’s staff in Philadelphia. We got to texting one another frequently. Dave and I have continued to do that. After he knew that he got the job in Houston this week, Dave texted me and I congratulated him,” Robertson added.

Some in the media have pushed back against Culley’s hiring at Houston, but Robertson said those criticisms are perhaps unfair. One of the complaints lodged by NFL analysts is Culley has never been a coordinator or head coach.

“I don’t think the media has really taken enough time to know (Culley). He’s always been focused, dedicated, a gentleman of the game."

Athletic Network Footnote by Ed Dugas.

David was on the 1984 & 85 Robertson staffs and on the 1986-88 Stokley staffs.

During his tenure at USL, David Culley and Dennis Donaldson (Asst. Men’s Basketball Coach), were partners and regulars at the faculty/staff noon time tennis doubles at the Long Gym Courts. Dennis was teaching in the Health and Physical Education Department and both loved tennis. They were excellent additions to our work outs with friendly, but fierce competition. Clyde Wolf, Al Simon, Dave Cameron, Marty Bourg, Sherry Richard LeBas, Sue Jones Simmons, Dave Fisher, and I in HPE, along with many other faculty and staff made noon tennis an enjoyable event for many years. It grew so large that the noon tennis class at Long Gym Courts was no longer scheduled so the entire banks of five and four courts could be used by faculty and staff at that time.