Mike Little: The best in Oklahoma history
Some things I can answer quickly. Greatest movie all time? “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Best book I ever read? The Color Purple. Best actor of them all? Robert Duvall. My favorite month? November. Favorite food? Seafood pasta. Favorite thing I’ve ever written? Mother’s Day 1995 piece on Jessie Selmon.
Some things, I don’t know. Favorite vacation spot? Uh, Colorado in the summer, the Oregon coast, San Francisco, Miami Beach. Tough call. Favorite uniforms? Jets, Packers, the old Warriors, New York football Giants. A dozen more. Favorite venue? Allen Fieldhouse, old Yankee Stadium, Folsom Field, the Rose Bowl. State Fair Arena. The Myriad. The Ballpark in Arlington. We could be here all day.
Best basketball game I’ve ever seen? That goes in the difficult category. I could name 10, then 15 minutes later think of 10 more just as good.
But the best football game I’ve ever seen? The answer comes easy. And never changes. Yukon-Putnam North 1992. A high school football showdown that trumps anything OU-Texas, or the Giants-Patriots Super Bowl, or Bedlam ever offered up.
Yukon upset PC North 27-21 in overtime in the regular-season finale of 1992. Great game. Great story.
The architect of that game, Mike Little, left us Friday. Dead at 68. He wasn’t the most innovative high school football coach in Oklahoma. Wasn’t the most charismatic (not even close). Wasn’t the most successful (though few were more successful).
But Little was the best. And here’s why I think so. Most high school coaches get one place and stay, or work to be successful so they can take better jobs.
Little did the opposite. He kept taking over places that weren’t as successful as where he had just left. And he kept winning. Little coached state championship teams at Putnam West, when the Patriots were the little brother to Putnam City, and at Putnam North, when the Panthers were the upstart new school.
Then Little left PC North after his state title year of 1991 and took over his alma mater, Yukon, which hadn’t won much of anything in forever. The Millers were 0-10 in 1991. Yet they went 9-1 in 1992, including that upset of PC North, which ended a 23-game winning streak, which then was a state record for the big-school class.
I’ve had a lot of wonderful experiences with my career. Getting to know Mike Little was one of them.
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