Oklahoma football: More on Bobby Drake Keith
I wrote about Bobby Drake Keith for my Monday column. Keith holds the distinction of being the only man to coach on the staffs of both Bear Bryant (at Alabama) and Bud Wilkinson (at OU). You can read the Keith column here.
But Keith’s lasting football legacy was being a Junction Boy, one of the survivors of Bryant’s brutal 1954 training camp in Junction, Texas, which has become the stuff of legend. Jim Dent wrote a bestselling book about the Junction Boys, and ESPN turned it into a movie. The Junction Boys went from 1-9 in 1954 to undefeated Southwest Conference champs in 1956.
Here are a few leftovers that didn’t make my column:
* Bryant’s Junction staff of 1954 included three assistant coaches who resonate well in Oklahoma.
1. Phil Cutchin. He became OSU’s head coach in 1963, went 19-38-2 over six seasons and memorably beat OU in back-to-back one-point games, OSU’s only Bedlam wins between 1945 and 1976.
But Cutchin is mostly known for Junction-style training camps in which legions of players were run off. I wrote about Cutchin’s players in September. You can read that here.
2. Jim Owens. The 1949 OU all-American end from ClassenHigh School hooked on with Bryant’s staff at Kentucky in 1951 and followed him to A&M.
Owens stayed three seasons, including the ’56 Southwest Conference champion team, then replaced his old pal, former OU teammate Darrell Royal, at Washington, when Royal became head coach at Texas.
Owens coached UW 18 seasons and went to three Rose Bowls.
3. Pat James. The crusty Bryant disciple played for the Bear at Kentucky, followed him to A&M and on to Alabama. Eventually, James followed another Kentuckian, Jim Mackenzie, to OU in 1966 to help rebuild the Sooners.
When Mackenzie died of a heart attack in April 1967, James was assistant head coach. Some on the staff hoped James would be elevated to head coach. Instead, president George Lynn Cross promoted the younger Chuck Fairbanks. James remained on staff and coordinated the defense of the 1967 Big Eight champion Sooners.
* When A&M played at Alabama in November, Paul Bryant Jr., who lives in Tuscaloosa, and the Bama athletic department hosted a reception and weekend full of activities for the Bear’s former Aggie players.
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