Switzer, Sutton: Thumbing it to March Madness
The death this week of former OU quarterback Jack Mitchell brought out another charming story about the open road.
Eddie Sutton always has told the story about hitch-hiking to Kansas City for the 1955 Final Four at Municipal Auditorium, to see Bill Russell and the San Francisco Dons. Sutton was an Oklahoma A&M freshman at the time.
Three years later, another young college student stuck out his thumb for March Madness. Barry Switzer, then an Arkansas sophomore, and teammates hitch-hiked to Lawrence, Kan., for the NCAA Midwest Regional. The Razorbacks were in the four-team field along with Cincinnati, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
Switzer went for two reasons: 1) cheer on his beloved Razorbacks; and 2) he knew he could get in free.
“We knew if we could get to Phog Allen Fieldhouse, we knew we’d all get in,” Switzer said. “Jack would let us in.”
Switzer still can recall memories from those 1958 games. The great Bob Boozer leading Kansas State to the Final Four. Sutton bringing the ball down court for OSU. And a memorable third-place game between Cincinnati and Arkansas, when with four minutes left, “Arkansas had 54 points and Oscar Robertson had 56.” Cincinnati won that game 97-62, and the Big O indeed finished with 56 points.
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