The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

March 15, 2013

Former Commerce coach John Tiger selected for hall of fame


The Joplin Globe

— Kenneth O. “John” Tiger, former coach at Commerce High School and a member of the Northeastern Oklahoma A&M Hall of Fame, will be inducted this weekend into The American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.

Induction ceremonies are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday on the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan.

A member of the Seminole Indian tribe, Tiger was an Oklahoma all-state performer at Seminole High School.

“I am extremely honored to be selected to join such a prestigious group of world-class athletes,” Tiger said in a release. “And the fact that I’m being introduced into the group by a man I greatly respect and admire (former NEO head football coach Chuck Bowman) makes it just that much more special to me.

“Another thing that makes this almost overwhelming is the fact that I am the first Seminole tribal member inducted into this organization. The overall experience is quite humbling.”

Following graduation from Seminole in 1958, Tiger started two years on both offense and defense for coach “Red” Robertson’s NEO Golden Norsemen.

NEO went 9-0 his freshman year, won the Oklahoma Junior College Conference title and the Junior College Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and finished the year ranked No. 1 by the NJCAA. The Norsemen were 9-1-1 in Tiger’s sophomore year and were named NJCAA national champions after a 10-7 victory over Texarkana (Texas) in the Texarkana Booster Club Bowl.

After transferring to the University of Kansas in 1959, Tiger was a redshirt one year before becoming a starter at offensive guard as a junior in 1961. The Jayhawks represented the Big 8 Conference in the first-ever Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, Texas. Tiger helped the Jayhawks post a 33-7 victory over Rice.

As a senior at Kansas, Tiger served as team co-captain and was selected to the All-Big 8 Conference honorable mention team. He also received the Mike Getto Award as KU Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Tiger served as a graduate assistant with the Jayhawks in 1963 as coach of the interior offensive and defensive lines. While serving as a graduate assistant, Tiger also helped coach spring practice at the Haskell Institute in Lawrence.

“While helping out at Haskell, I had the privilege of coaching James Billy, future chief of the Florida Seminole Indian Tribe,” Tiger said. “He was an outstanding quarterback with a lot of raw, natural talent.”

Returning to NEO as a member of coaching staff, Tiger helped guide the Golden Norsemen to NJCAA national titles in 1967 and 1969.

From 1970 to 1974, Tiger was an assistant football coach at Haskell Institute in Lawrence before entering private business in Seminole from 1975 to 1985.

Tiger assumed the head football coaching position at Commerce High School from 1986 to 1993. He guided the Tigers to the Class 2A playoffs in 1987, 1988 and 1993.

Tiger then was head coach at Terrell (Texas) High School from 1994-2000. Terrell won district titles in 1994 and 2000.

After one year as head coach at Wills Point, Texas, Tiger left the football field to serve 11 years as a school administrator at Wills Point.