By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
Sparta native named Houston Texans head coach
David Culley.jpg

The Houston Texans named David Culley their new head coach on Jan. 29. Culley is from Sparta and he was a left-handed quarterback at Vanderbilt University in the 1970s.

He was the first African-American quarterback to play in a game and start at Vanderbilt. Recently Culley has mentioned that his original goal was to graduate and go back to Sparta to be an assistant coach for Dee Harris, his head football coach at White County.

The Vanderbilt football coach who recruited David Culley was Bill Parcells, the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt on Steve Sloan’s staff. Culley told an interesting story about Parcells in his press conference after being named the new head coach of the NFL Texans.

Parcells nick-named Culley “double-cross.” David Culley explained that in the ’70s, a high school student could sign a “letter of intent” but not be bound to that school. There was an actual signing day after the letter-of-intent signing that was binding.

After Culley signed a letter-of-intent with MTSU, Parcells called Culley. According to Culley, Parcells said, “I thought you were going to be a Vanderbilt Commodore.” Culley responded, “Coach, when it gets down to the end, if you are going to do everything that you say you are going to do, then I will become a Commodore.”

David Culley remembered Parcell’s reply and the origin of the nickname, “Then you have double- crossed Middle Tennessee State.”

Culley says Parcells was still calling him “double- cross” 30 years later. Culley says it does take a village to raise someone, of which Culley says he is a perfect example. He says the people of Sparta and all the coaches he has had in college and coached with over the years have taught him valuable lessons.

Culley said in his first press conference as the new Houston Texan head coach that he does not have a job. Culley said, “In 43 years of coaching, this has not been a job for me. It is my passion. I had a job in the summer at Vanderbilt with Allied Van Lines helping people move. I was not very good at it. Coaching is my passion and all that I have learned has got me here today.”

Culley started a game for Vanderbilt in 1975 when the regular starter Fred Fisher was injured. Culley led Vandy to victory over Rice in Houston, 9-6. There is perfect symmetry from Culley’s first start at Vanderbilt and his first NFL coaching start, both being in Houston.

At 65, David Culley becomes the oldest firsttime head coach in NFL history. Culley spent 18 years coaching with Andy Reid from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Kansas City Chiefs. His first NFL job was with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers in 1994 under head coach Sam Wyche.

Culley was a college coach at many colleges from 1978 to 1993. In 1978, Culley was the running backs coach at Austin Peay University, and in 1993, Culley was the wide receivers coach at Texas A& M.

David Culley played football, basketball, and baseball at White County High School in Sparta.