TULSA — Early in 2012, J.T. Cobble submitted his father, Tom, for the Oklahoma Coaches Association Hall of Fame, an honor that came to fruition at a ceremony Sunday night.
And if there was a hall of fame for fathers, J.T. would have nominated his dad for that, too.
Not because his father coached him to a football state championship in Weatherford. Not because he mentored and molded J.T. into a talented young assistant coach.
But because Tom Cobble was the steady rock in J.T.'s life when a son needed his father the most, during a tragic situation that was almost more than J.T. could handle.
J.T. Cobble was the person who found former Oklahoma football player Austin Box unconscious at Cobble's home in May 2011. He was the one who called 911 and tried to revive Box.
Not only did J.T. Cobble face the private tragedy from the death of a close friend, he was in the middle of a story that became a national media magnet.
“ESPN somehow got my phone number,” J.T. Cobble said. “My street looked like a college-football game with all the TV trucks with their antennas up.
“So my dad let me live with him for a while. He made an effort to not talk about things, and do things to keep my mind off all of it. He was the rock.”
Tom Cobble was close with Box and his family, too. But he stood strong through the horrible events.
“I know he was hurting, too,” J.T. said. “But he made sure that I was OK first.
“If I didn't have the type of relationship I have with him, I don't know if I would have made it through all of that.”
Quite deservingly, Tom Cobble was inducted into the OCA Hall of Fame for his coaching accomplishments Sunday night, along with Ronnie Asbill, Larry Bookout, Dan Bradberry, Mark Campbell, Jim Coleman, Rick Jones, Charley North, Blaine Stone and T.J. “Sonny” Vermillion.
“It's really a thought-provoking honor,” Tom Cobble said. “You think back to all the great coaches you worked with and all the great players you had — that's really what makes a guy's career go as long as mine has. It's a pretty exciting honor.”