Switzer tales: Recruiting Elvis Peacock
The Oklahoma recruiting of Elvis Peacock did not rise to the level of Billy Sims’ drama a year later, or the pursuit of Adrian Peterson 30 years later. But make no mistake, Barry Switzer’s chase of the Miami, Fla., speedster was no small thing.
The principals of the story — Switzer, Peacock and OU assistant coach Gene Hochevar — rendezvoused last Saturday night, when they flew together from Norman to Waco, Texas, for Thomas Lott’s enshrinement into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
Thirty-five years later, Switzer still recalls the nickname of Peacock’s high school, “Miami Central Rockets!,” and still paints the picture of Peacock running the 100-yard dash.
“He’s on the (starting) box, up here,” Switzer said, using his hand to show how high Peacock stood. “He’s 6-(foot)-1. Everyone else is down here.”
Peacock ran a 9.4 100-yard dash. During Peacock’s OU days, when teammates would debate who was fastest, and Peacock’s 100-yard dash was dismissed as being too far for football terms and not relevant to the 40-yard dash, Switzer would offer some advice.
“Any guy that can run a 9.4 can run the 40,” Switzer said.
Hochevar, an unsung hero of Switzer’s 1970s staffs, was the assistant coach who speared Peacock for the Sooners.
“Coolest white guy ever,” said Peacock, who is not prone to outrageous statements. “He spoke the language. He knew what to do. He always knew where to find me.”
That would be the Gold Coast sandwich shop, in a rough section of Miami.
“I was the only guy who could go down to Liberty City with lime green pants,” Hochevar said.
Said Switzer, “He couldn’t outcoach you, but he could outdress your (butt).”
Years later, when Hochevar coached at Colorado with Bob Cortese (who would gain Oklahoma fame as coach of OKC’s arena football team), Cortese would tell Hochevar that OU cheated to get Peacock.
Hochevar dismissed Cortese, saying the recruitment of Peacock was no more complicated than this. “I had a Cadillac, red and white Eldorado,” Hochevar said. “The Colorado coach had a Fairlane station wagon.”
Switzer interrupted the story to tell Hochevar, “You know what I said when coaches told me that? ‘If you had a chance to go to your school or Oklahoma, what would you do?’”
Hochevar tells the story of a Kentucky recruiter taking Peacock’s mom to gamble at jai alai. The Kentucky coach hit a big winner and the next morning proudly told Hochevar he had shared half his winnings with Peacock’s mom. “Should have kept your money,” Hochevar said. “Elvis told me last night he’s for sure coming.”
When Switzer went recruiting in Miami in those days, he had a local high school coach, Rufus Ford, drive him around. Years later, NCAA investigators delved into Switzer’s finances and asked why he had written a check for $500 to Rufus Ford.
“Why?” Switzer asked. “Because his (butt) picked me up and drove me around Liberty City. I didn’t know where to go.” The NCAA investigator said, “That’s a violation.”
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