Oklahoma football: Talking with old Sooners
For the Tuesday Oklahoman, I wrote about OU’s PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY sign, which for 60 years Sooner players have been touching as they enter Owen Field. You can read that story here.
It was an enjoyable story to do, because I got to chat with some of the Bud Wilkinson-era players.
I talked with Clendon Thomas, Billy Krisher, Bob Burris, Calvin Woodworth, Ed Lisak and Claude Arnold.
All expressed hope that the Sooners can beat Notre Dame on Saturday night. Thomas and Krisher were on the OU teams that routed Notre Dame 40-0 in 1956 and lost to the Irish 7-0 in 1957 in the historic game that ended the 47-game winning streak.
Burris and Woodworth were on the OU team that lost to Notre Dame 28-21 in 1953. Lisak and Arnold never played against the Irish but were on OU’s 1950 national title team.
Woodworth was a tackle from Minco and lives there still. He’s always a great source to talk about Bud Wilkinson.
“The way Coach Wilkinson was, he would mention anything that would encourage us to play better,” Woodworth said.
All these decades later – Woodworth last played football for OU 57 years ago – Woodworth still remembers particular Wilkinson wisdoms. Like this: “Don’t lie to yourself. Don’t tell yourself you did the best you could, if you didn’t. Only a fool lies to himself.”
Said Woodworth, “I’ve remembered that over the years.”
Said Lisak, “When the Great White Father spoke, we listened.”
I had forgotten, but Lisak reminded me that we talked 13 years ago, when he started a letter-writing campaign to get national championship rings for the 1950 team. I wrote about it, and OU eventually got the ’50 Sooners rings.
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