Happy Greg Ward Day!

The Tyler John Tyler legend reinvigorated UH Football


It’s the 9th annual Greg Ward Day! Since 2015, we’ve celebrated this great day in University of Houston Athletics history.

Very few players have changed the trajectory of the Houston Cougar program as much as Greg Ward did. That’s why we celebrate Greg Ward Day every October 2nd!

In 2014, before Greg Ward started at QB, UH was a pitiful, ho-hum team that struggled to score more than one touchdown.

Quarterback John O’Korn had been dreadful in several early starts that season, first in the opener with UTSA and then at BYU. In the October 2nd game vs. UCF on a Thursday night, O’Korn had issues again. Fans were starting to boo until Greg Ward saved him, flying free across the middle. O’Korn found him.

That 36-yard strike was O’Korn’s longest of the night and gave him a little breathing room. But after a UCF penalty put the Coogs at the two-yard-line, O’Korn couldn’t get it in the end zone in four tries. Some light booing started to wash over a pretty empty stadium, and on the next series, Ward was given a chance at QB.

Well … one chance. It was one series. Then, Tony Levine and Travis Bush put O’Korn back out there, and he was picked off on the very first play of the series. But they stuck with O’Korn and had Ward back fielding punts. O’Korn went three and out with a sack the next time out, and the booing got louder.

Inconceivably, the coaching staff sent O’Korn back out after halftime. He missed on a slant to Ward on 3rd down, and UH had to punt again. On the next drive, he bounced a swing pass to Ward on first down. The boos could not be stopped: they started to rain down, mostly aimed at Tony Levine for keeping him out there, but also at O’Korn’s poor play.

On the next snap, O’Korn threw another of his no-touch bullets across the middle. It hit Deontay Greenberry, bounced up, and was picked off. O’Korn was now 12/26 for just 98 yards and 2 INTs. That bullet was his last meaningful snap at UH.

Finally, with 8:25 to go in the 3rd quarter, Greg Ward took over as Houston’s QB, where he stayed for the next 34 games.

That’s why we remember the date: October 2nd, 2014. It was the day Tony Levine got booed into putting Greg Ward at QB.

GW3: By The Numbers

In the ten games before Ward’s first start, UH scored 2 TDs or less 5 times (3 of those games were 0 or 1 TD).
Once Greg Ward became the starter, UH scored 3 TDs or more in 32 of 34 games. The play of #1 erased the embarrassing Levine/Bush/O’Korn offense.

As the starter, Greg Ward went 28-6 and won 2 bowls, including a New Year’s Six game, and a conference title. He went 6-0 vs. P5 teams, 9-1 out of conference, and 19-5 in the league.

All this after Levine went 15-15 in the 30 games before starting Ward. Before Ward, UH played just 2 P5 teams under Levine – both blowout losses.

Greg Ward Jr. in 34 starts:

CategoryGreg Ward
Completion %66.7%
Passing TDs52
Rush Attempts468
Rush Yards1990
Yards Per Carry4.25
Rushing TDs35

Ward finished his career 2-0 vs. top 5 teams, 3-0 vs. Top 10 teams, and 6-0 vs. top 25 teams. He was 13-4 in ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 games, 16-1 at TDECU, and 15-0 at home in his final two seasons.

He was 10-2 in November. Won an Armed Forces Bowl title with the largest fourth-quarter comeback in bowl history. 1-0 in conference title games. Won the AAC title. Won a Peach Bowl title.

One day soon, Ward will go into the University of Houston’s Hall of Honor. Deservedly so.

And to think that until he was guilted into the move, Tony Levine mostly used Greg Ward as a punt returner and 2nd-string WR. Ward overcame it all: 3 head coaches, multiple injuries, and a much more difficult schedule than any recent UH QB had played.
Thanks, Greg!

Greg Ward Gallery

Photo copyrights: Houston Athletics and Sports Illustrated.