"He was such a likable person," another fan said. "The players liked him. The fans liked him."
Phillips was an assistant coach at UH, but rose to fame as head coach of the Houston Oilers in the mid-70s, twice taking the team to the AFC Championship game.
Willie Alexander played defensive back for four seasons under Phillips.
"Very simple, plain guy; nothing fancy, nothing pretentious," Alexander said. "What you saw was what you got. And he was a man of his word."
Alexander said Phillips was a master motivator who connected with his players.
"He treated me as if I was a great player, and that's the way he treated everybody on our team," Alexander said.
On the field and off, Phillips commanded respect. He was a dyed-in-the-wool Texan who will long be remembered as one of the state's all-time-great coaches.
The game is missing a true legend," Alexander said.
"I thought about him a lot today when I heard he was gone," a fan told us. "It really is, for football, it's a loss."
Phillips is being buried in a private ceremony on his ranch. A memorial service to celebrate the life and times of Phillips is set for October 29 at Lakewood Church. The service will begin at 7:30pm and feature former Oilers and coaches from the "Luv Ya Blue" era.
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