Owens served two-and-a-half years with the Naval Air Corps during World War II. Following his service, Owens enrolled at Oklahoma where he played from 1946-49. Owens was the Sooners' captain and leading receiver, earning him All-American honors on Oklahoma's 11-0 squad in 1949. After graduating in 1950, Owens played one season for the Baltimore Colts while also serving as a part-time assistant at John Hopkins University. Owens was then an assistant under Paul "Bear" Bryant at Kentucky from 1951-53 and followed Bryant to Texas A&M in 1954 and stayed until 1956. At Washington, Owens was 99-82-6 during his 18 seasons as head coach. Owens' Husky teams won three AAWU titles and went to three Rose Bowls including the Huskies' first ever Rose Bowl win in 1960, a 44-8 romp over Wisconsin. Owens split his other two trips to Pasadena when the Huskies beat Minnesota 17-7 in 1961 and lost to Illinois in 1964, 17-7. Owens retired following the 1974 campaign. He was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 1979.