OU coaches at age 48
Bob Stoops turned 48 on Tuesday. Rather than some gift that Bob might think was a gag, like an orange tie, I thought I would give Bob something that might come in handy for future decisions. Like historical perspective.
I thought it would be fun to go back and look at what some other Sooner coaches were doing when they turned 48.
Stoops is trying to figure out how to win a road game 2,000 miles from home and protect what could be a special season.
Barry Switzer turned 48 on Oct. 5, 1985. Switzer in October 1985 hadn’t won a national title in 10 seasons and had just come through a rocky stretch of four defeats in three seasons, 1981-83, and a loss to Washington in the 1984-season Orange Bowl. On Oct. 5, Switzer’s Sooners beat Kansas State 41-6 to run their record to 2-0. But the OU wishbone, run by a skyscraper named Troy Aikman, still seemed rusty. Who knew that Switzer was on the verge of national title No. 3?
Lesson for Stoops: National title droughts can come when you least expect it.
Bud Wilkinson turned 48 on April 23, 1964. His three national titles, 47-game winning streak and 145 OU victories were behind him. On April 23, 1964, an Oklahoman poll showed that Wilkinson was running strong in the polls. You know what happened. Democrat Fred Harris rode the coattails of President LBJ and defeated Wilkinson, who left politics.
Lesson for Stoops: If you enter politics, be careful who your party is trotting out for president.
Chuck Fairbanks turned 48 on June 10, 1981. Behind him already was six seasons as the Sooner coach in which he thrice finished No. 2 in the AP poll and six seasons as the New England Patriots in which he turned around a pathetic franchise and went 46-39 overall. Also behind him was two years at Colorado, where he had jumped for a big contract but was just 4-18. He had alienated some with an extreme makeover: coach’s office edition that cost $50,000 in a year in which CU dropped six sports: wrestling, baseball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s gymnastics. Fairbanks in June was preparing for a season in which the Buffs would go 3-8, his three-year record would fall to 7-26, and Fairbanks would resign to take over the New Jersey General of the USFL.
Lesson for Stoops: Keep leaving good jobs and you’re going to find one that isn’t.
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