The Legendary Billy Laird
Author: Lacy Camp
Thursday morning was a sad day across Louisiana after losing a special person in the football world.
Billy Laird, 71-years-old, had been in ICU in Shreveport’s University Health after suffering multiple strokes in Ruston on May 12. Monday, Laird was taken off a ventilator and had his feeding tube removed.
With news of Laird’s passing, the Ruston Bearcat family has taken to Twitter showing love and grief over a man who impacted many.
How much impact has Laird had?
Throughout his life, Laird has had a lengthy football career and left a legacy behind.
A predecessor to Terry Bradshaw and Joe Ferguson as Woodlawn’s quarterback, Laird’s football career began to pick up.
Laird was voted an All-State choice in 1961. After graduating from Woodlawn in 1962, he took the job as QB at Louisiana Tech University.
At Tech, Laird was voted All-Gulf States Conference from 1963-65 and was an honorable mention All-American in 1965.
A year later, Laird took his skill and talent to the next level when he was a 15th round New England Patriots draftee in the 1966 draft.
After playing a season for the Patriots, Laird returned to school and received his bachelor’s degree from Arkansas in 1968. The following season Laird coached the freshman team.
Laird continued his coaching career as he served as the assistant football coach at Tech and Tulane.
From 1979-82, Laird served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Northwestern State University under the legendary A.L. Williams, where he coached Mark Duper, Joe Delaney, Victor Otis and other big name players.
After a successful season for NSU, where the Demons went 7-4 and broke 21 offensive records, Laird was offered the job to be the new head coach, which he declined.
In the mid-1990s at Nashville, Arkansas, Laird won several Arkansas state championships where one of his top players was Todd Cooley, current Delta State head coach.
After coaching in Arkansas, Laird laid roots down in Ruston where he served as the football head coach for 11 years.
In December 2012, Laird decided to become strictly Ruston’s athletic director and handed the head coach position over to his son Brad Laird.
“Coach Laird did a lot for our school,” said Ricky Durrett, Ruston High’s principal. “I enjoyed watching and learning from him about how he handled kids. Billy Laird was all about the kids.”