Former Texas coach David McWilliams attended the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame inductions on May 8. His Longhorn quarterback in 1989-91, Peter Gardere, was among the honorees. Gardere went on to QB for John Mackovic in 1992 and finished 4-0 against the Sooners.
The Texas contingent to support Gardere was limited mostly to McWilliams, who has worked in UT’s administration since he was fired to make way for Mackovic. In fact, a couple of hours before the banquet in Waco, Texas, McWilliams was invited to join the huge OU contingent – Barry Switzer, nine former Sooner players and former assistants Gene Hochever and Rex Norris – that had assembled to honor Thomas Lott, OU’s 1976-78 quarterback who also was inducted.
McWilliams lingered in the Hilton lounge listening to all the old stories. He chimed in only once, to say he appreciated Switzer. McWilliams said that in spring 1986, when Troy Aikman was planning to transfer from OU, Switzer called McWilliams, who had just become head coach at Texas Tech. Switzer told McWilliams he should give Aikman a call.
McWilliams said he called Aikman, and Aikman’s family was very receptive. Said Aikman was visiting UCLA that weekend, and if he didn’t jump aboard with the Bruins, he would visit Lubbock. Of course, Aikman liked UCLA and the rest is history.
Which set off Switzer to tell one of his favorite stories, of coaching the Hula Bowl all-star game in January 1986. In that game, Switzer coached Purdue’s Jim Everett, who was considered a top NFL prospect and who indeed went on to a long and productive career in the pros. That week, Switzer told the NFL scouts, “I know this; I’ve got a quarterback at Oklahoma throws the ball better than this (SOB).” The scouts “looked at me and hee-hawed.”
Guess Switzer got the last laugh.