Switzer tales: Beating out Greg Pruitt
Jerry Pettibone, Barry Switzer’s recruiting coordinator in the 1970s, had a tradition. Whenever any staff member said something outrageous, Pettibone would write it down, fold up the paper and toss it into a light fixture that hung over the coaches table.
Wendell Mosley was in the light fixture a lot. You’ve read a lot about Mosley over the years. Switzer, in Bootlegger’s Boy, devoted almost an entire chapter to the late Mosley, who died in 1990 at the age of 57. Mosley was a Switzer assistant from 1972-75 and 1979-81. In between, Mosley was head coach at Texas Southern.
Before coming to OU, Mosley coached at Houston’s Elmore High School. Greg Pruitt was one of Mosley’s players at Elmore. Which makes this story even more interesting.
During the 1972 recruiting season, just after Pruitt had rushed for 1,760 yards and 9.0 yards per carry, Mosley told the staff, “Boy, we’ve got a problem. Where are we going to play Greg Pruitt next year? I’m recruiting a boy that’ll beat his (butt) out.”
Said Switzer, “the whole room hee-hawed. Jimmy Johnson, Jim Dickey, Lacewell, me. Chuck (Fairbanks), chomping on that cigar. Pettibone jumped up and wrote it down. Throws it in the lamp.”
On signing day, the Sooners signed Joe Washington. That summer, several OU coaches attended the 1972 Texas high school all-state game. When the staff reconvened, someone mocked Mosley, asking if anyone had seen the guy who could beat out Greg Pruitt.
There was dead silence in the room.
Dickey, who would go on to coach Kansas State, said, “I don’t know. He’s pretty damn good.” Johnson, in his final season as an OU assistant, smiled and said, “He’s going to play.”
As always, Mosley had gone over the top. Joe Washington wasn’t beating out Greg Pruitt. But Little Joe was special from the day he stepped on campus, and the debate on which wishbone halfback was better can still rage today.
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