The wishbone offense first debuted in college football on September 21, 1968 when the University of Texas, coached by Darrell Royal, played the University of Houston. Dubbed the "pulleybone" buy reporters, Royal later referred to it as the wishbone offense.

The wishbone offense that Texas began using in 1968 was created after Royal watched a Texas A&M option offense defeat Bear Bryants' Alabama team in the Cotton Bowl Classic on January 1, 1968. Coach Royal instructed his offensive coordinator, Emory Bellard, to develop an option offense that utilized a 3 back backfield. Bellard came back to coach Royal with the wishbone formation.

According to Barry Switzer, in his auto biography "Bootlegger's Boy", the wishbone formation was actually created by a junior high coach by the name of Spud Cason in Fort Worth, Tx. Cason created the wishbone out of the "T" formation because he had a back that was too slow to get to the line of scrimmage fast enough to lead block so he moved the middle back, the fullback, forward a step creating a backfield that was shaped like the wishbone of a chicken. It was originally called the "Monning T", named after the school Cason coached for, Monnig Junior High School.

Bellard used the wishbone formation as the basis of the triple option offense that he presented to Coach Royal. The triple option offense was born and bacame the signature offense of the University of Texas. Texas tied with the University of Houston in that first game, lost their second game against Texas Tech, then won their next 30 games straight and two national championships.

In 1970, Pual "Bear" Bryant installed the wishbone at Alabama and midway into the 1970 season Chuch Fairbanks, encouraged by Barry Switzer, switched to the wishbone offense ant Oklahoma University. Barry Switzer, considered by many to have perfected the 'bone', used the offense at Oklahoma until he risigned from college coaching in 1989 as the fourth winningest coach in NCAA division I history with a .844 winning percentage and three national championships.

Since the development and perfection of the wishbone, teams from all levels have used it to some degree with success. Besides, Texas, Alabama, and Oklahoma, other major college teams have had success with some form of the wishbone including Georgia Tech, Army, Navy, and Airforce.