Bubba Burcham couldn't resist his true calling any longer.
That's why the former OU football captain resigned last month after six years as Coweta's football coach to pursue a career in ministry.
Burcham, who played high school football at Mustang, walked on at Oklahoma in 1996 after receiving no scholarship offers. He eventually earned a scholarship and became the starting center on the Sooners' 2000 national championship team.
Mark Mangino, OU's offensive coordinator and offensive line coach that year, once said that Burcham, “might be the most reliable person I've ever been around.”
Burcham was an OU graduate assistant coach, then worked his way through the high-school ranks and became Coweta's head coach in 2008.
Burcham will finish out this school year teaching at Coweta before entering the ministry full-time. He and his wife, Miranda, have three biological children and are currently foster parents to 9-month-old twins.
My parents divorced when I was a freshman in high school. It was a very pivotal point, where I was just trying to figure out what's going on. As I grew, there were different men who came along in my life and mentored me. I was just trying to be the same kind of person to these young men as their coach.
Divorce is an epidemic in America. A lot of these young players are having to deal with it themselves. I'm just trying to be there, saying, “Hey, I've been there. I've dealt with that, and here's how God helped me through it.”
I have two sons, so anything I could get my hands on that had to do with manhood, biblical manhood, authentic manhood, I just devoured it. Going to seminars, reading books. At my church, I started leading a men's group.
Going through that, trying to implement that here in coaching, running bible studies out of the field house, my desire to do that just became so great.
There's been a lot of talk this year about coaches and time and effort, and all the hours they put in. Knowing the time and effort it takes to be successful, to do it right, I didn't feel like I was doing the players fair because my heart was not the same.
God puts a path for a man to do something, and you have to follow that path. I couldn't deny what God was doing in my heart. So I jumped off the school bus.
Three years ago, I said, “I'll coach forever. There's nothing else in the whole world I would want to do.”
Two years ago, I said, “I could see something different someday.”
Last year, I said, “Am I avoiding the inevitable? That ministry is calling me?”
So this year, it was just on my mind all the time. “What am I doing? Why am I having these feelings?”
God was pushing me in a different direction.
When we were first married, my wife said, “I want to be a foster parent someday.” I knew a little bit about it, and I said, “No, that ain't happening.”
Then just over time, her prodding, prayer, seeing the hurt and the pain in so many kids' lives just changed my thinking.
One of my eighth-grade students told me a while back that he had to go to the shelter.
We went to visit him, and come to find out, he's got a little brother and a little sister. My wife and I just looked at each other and said, “OK. Here we go.” We just jumped off.
My oldest son was 3, and my daughter was maybe 8 weeks old. In a matter of eight weeks, we went from a family of three to a family of seven. We fostered all three of them for about six weeks.
These are our 12th and 13th foster kids that we've had in our home. Some of them for long term, and some of them just for a weekend.
The stories you hear are just amazing. Good and bad.
I had these two boys for nine months. We get them, and oh man, they're just an absolute mess. Just cussing us right and left, every word you've ever imagined.
The boys would say, “That's what my mom says.” I said, “Well, I understand that. But those aren't the words we use in our house.” Eventually they quit doing it.
They've gone back home to their mom. We were able to minister to the mom, work with the family, work with those boys. We gave them big birthday parties. Had fun with them. Loved them.
To me, on the risk versus reward, the reward always outweighs it because you're gonna pour into someone's life. If you're pouring into people, you're gonna be blessed more than you can imagine.
The walking-on process was very difficult. Freshman year, being on scout team, I remember (offensive coordinator) Dick Winder. … The third-team center got hurt, so I got to go in. I messed it up, and he said, “Get out of there,” and he called me the other guy's name.
Everybody was like, “That's not him.” And he said, “I don't care who you are. Just get out.”
That was a pretty low moment.
I remember going through spring ball and not getting any reps. I thought, “What am I doing?” Through the course of my first spring ball, different guys shuffled around and got hurt, so I got a lot of time.
My redshirt freshman year, I was a back-up, and after that year is when I got on scholarship. I spent two years as a walk-on.
The experience I gained my first year of actually being able to play kinda whet that appetite. Really gave me confidence and determination. “I am a walk-on, yes, but you're not gonna treat me like one. I'm still gonna get after you. I'm still gonna outwork you.”
I remember the first spring with Coach Stoops, I tore my pec muscle during practice. I was backing up a guy. I started probably three-fourths of Coach (John) Blake's last season and played in every game. So coming into the next season, I was the back-up and wasn't too happy about it.
At first, Coach Mangino was like, “This guy's an ex-walk on. What am I gonna get out of him?” And there's nothing wrong with that. That's just kinda how it is. Walk-ons are expendable.
Over time, some of them can prove to have some high value.
If someone called me and said they were thinking about walking on, I would not sugarcoat it one bit. I would tell them the truth. No one sugarcoated it for me; I just went into it clueless, and I had a very unique experience that doesn't happen very often.
I'd tell them the truth. Tell them it's hard. There are so many walk-on guys who never see the field. It's not for everybody.
There's a nice little YouTube video out there of Torrance (Marshall) talking trash to (Chris) Weinke at the pregame coin toss before the Orange Bowl.
I wasn't surprised because he did that every game. He was talking smack to everybody. He and Ontei Jones were both from Florida, both from Miami, I think. At practice, they never shut up.
I'm not the greatest at on-the-fly comebacks. I wouldn't say much, but I'm gonna cheat and hold, and do the little things that offensive linemen do to mess with them and make them mad.
It was just an ongoing thing between us. He was the middle linebacker and I was the center. So we're gonna mess with each other.
After the Orange Bowl, it was kinda surreal. My brother-in-law and I went to eat at Denny's. I think it was like 3 in the morning, and were sitting down eating and the waitress is waiting on us, they had no idea what I just did. They didn't really care, probably, either.
As the years go, this year being the last year of the BCS, there's just a sense of pride that we were there and able to accomplish that.