Switzer tales: wrapping up the series
My vacation ends today, but I’ve stayed connected by sharing some stories from Barry Switzer’s glory days, told during my trip to Waco, Texas, with Switzer two weeks ago, when he convened with his players and coaches to honor Thomas Lott’s induction into the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame. I guess this is as good a time as any to end the series, but here are the remnants of the stories told but not yet used:
· Recruiting both Billy Sims and Kenny King in the same class, 1975, was not easy. And it wasn’t easy even after they became OU teammates. One needed to move to fullback, and it wasn’t going to be Sims, who in my opinion remains OU’s greatest offensive player ever. Switzer told King he would like him to move to fullback, because of his speed and acceleration, and because the Sooners couldn’t afford to have to both King and Sims playing halfback. King’s response? “Why don’t you move Sims?”
· Switzer and Gene Hochevar agreed that the best new rule is the ban on feeding recruits and their families. Hochever recalled recruiting John Roush out of suburban Denver in the early 1970s. “I gained 25 pounds,” Hochevar said. “His mama and daddy and sister, they ate more than any football players.”
· 1980 all-American tackle Louis Oubre got married a few years ago in Dallas. Switzer and Hochevar were groomsmen. They wore white patent leather shoes, white tuxedos and pink vests. Switzer said he told Hochevar, “Gene, we can’t let this get north of the Red.”
· Of all the great players recruited in 1975, only two played significantly. Linebacker Daryl Hunt and tight end Victor Hicks. Hicks because OU needed a tight end. Hunt because he came from Odessa Permian. “You have to know how to practice,” Switzer said. “You have to know how to work. Daryl knew how to work.” Switzer said it’s the same today, with players from big-time high school programs having the upper hand. It’s become trite to say that players from successful high school programs are more ready to contribute, because they know how to win. Untrue. Winning has nothing to do with it. Players from Jenks and Ada and Southlake (Texas) Carroll know how to work.
· Switzer can laugh about his gun scandal while coaching the Dallas Cowboys; he was caught with a gun in his bag going through security at DFW airport. “The greatest line I ever heard about the DFW gun deal? That night, I’m in Sullivan’s (bar) in Austin. Some brothers come in, I said, ‘At least I didn’t have an uzi.’ Then some big black arms come around and I heard a voice say, ‘Coach, I always knew you were a players’ coach. You proved it to us today.’” The voice came from Earl Campbell.
· When Lott was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame a few years ago, Switzer, Hicks and Sims drove down to honor him. After the event, their car battery was dead. Hicks and Sims tried to flag down some help. No one would stop. “You guys get back,” Switzer said. “They’re not stopping for you.” Switzer flagged down a car and got a jump.
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