Switzer tales: There’s only one Rex Norris
Oklahoma football fans remember Rex Norris as Barry Switzer’s defensive coordinator between Larry Lacewell and Gary Gibbs. Norris’ old colleagues think of something very different.
“There’s only one Rex Norris,” said Switzer, breaking out a 21st-century OU phrase. “He is crazy.”
Norris, a long-time defensive line coach in both the college and NFL ranks, now is retired, living north of Austin, Texas. He drove up to Waco last Saturday night to join Switzer, fellow former OU assistant Gene Hochevar and a host of Sooner football alums to honor Thomas Lott, who was inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.
Hochevar told the story of several coaches taking a trip to Las Vegas. One night, they went to hear Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Norris was obsessed with getting on stage. Didn’t happen.
The next night, the group went to see Liberace. When the show began, Norris was nowhere to be found. Liberace rolled onto the stage in a Rolls Royce and dramatically exited the car. Then Norris, hiding in the floorboard, emerged from the backseat. Security guards quickly grabbed Norris and hauled him off.
Switzer told the story of Norris taking his stepdaughter to Dallas and promising her she could iceskate at the Galleria. The Galleria skating closed at 5 p.m., and Norris and his stepdaughter got to the rink at 4:40, and no one was on the ice.
Norris went to the stand and ordered a certain skate size for the girl.
“Sorry,” he was told by the attendant, “we’re closed.”
But it’s 4:40, Norris said. The attendant moved his face closer to Norris’ and said, “it’s closed.”
Norris shot his finger straight into the poor guy’s nostril and lifted his head straight up. “I said I want some skates and I want them now,” Norris said. The girl got to skate until 5 p.m.
Norris joined the OU staff in 1973, Switzer’s first season, and coached 11 years. Then he coached at Arizona State, the Detroit Lions and with Galen Hall at Florida in 1988-89.
In 1990, Switzer got a call from Lacewell, asking Switzer to put in a call to Tennessee coach Johnny Majors on Norris’ behalf. Switzer called Majors and reminded him that years before, Switzer had endorsed Lacewell for a job with Majors and told Majors that someday, Majors would thank Switzer for the recommendation. Switzer told Majors the same thing would happen with Norris. Then Switzer crossed his fingers that Norris “didn’t kill anyone.”
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