As an OU linebacker, Brian Bosworth won two Butkus Awards and placed fourth in the 1986 Heisman Trophy voting. But he became more famous for his “Boz” persona and a self-absorption for which he later apologized to fellow former Sooners. Bosworth chatted about the 2012 Heisman Trophy, his OU days and playing defense in this age of spread offenses.
I'm down here living with the enemy (in Austin, Texas). I'm in the oil business. Probably not a permanent stop. Still trying to check it out. I'm learning a great deal.
It's amazing. Everybody has the feeling of huge hatred. But there's not really. Even the Texas fans, I've never had any issues. I go out quite a bit, I'll go tailgate with those guys. Everybody's a big fan, very respectful. Just enjoy each other's company. The sports fan, they get (fired up) for those 60 minutes, then they let it go. They appreciate what the athlete's all about.
We've all grown up. You're not going to be a kid forever. You let some of that kid stuff back in the day go.
In the Heisman, I'm actually pulling for the best athlete. I have a lot of respect for Manti (Te'o, Notre Dame linebacker). A lot of it has to do with the way the trophy's presented. Strength and character, what that particular player means to that team, how that team responds to that athlete.
At the end of the day, Johnny Manziel, he's the guy that should probably win that award, because I don't think Manti's the best defensive player in college football. I think there's better defensive players playing on other teams. He means a lot to the spirit of Notre Dame. Those considerations put him, rightfully so, second or third. You appreciate when a guy plays his heart out.
The Heisman in years past has been about highlights. You gotta look at a single body of work for the entire 60 minutes. Every play has a beginning, middle and end. Some of the guys that win the Heisman aren't involved in the entire play.
The best players, they become a tougher player as the game wears on. His toughness trickles down to his teammates. He's counting on me, I'm not going to let him down. I think the defensive players get overlooked a lot. You don't see a lot of big plays that Notre Dame gave up, simply because they play good defense.
Manti looks like his foot's to the floor to the moment the ball is kicked. I'd rather take Manti's heart, soul, character, what he brings to the game and to his team. He affects the rest of his teammates to be better players.
Did I play that way? I certainly hope so. There's very few guys that play with the amount of passion, the refusal to get beat, the refusal to lose. If you're injured, it doesn't matter. I worked all week, I worked all season, to get to this moment to play. A lot of guys I played with, I hope they feel, bottom line, he's going to be out there every single play and he's going to kill himself to make every single play.
I think we all took on that mindset. Our motto back then was three and out. Everybody took a lot of pride in doing their job. If you didn't do your job, you saw it on the film the next day, you felt bad, but you almost felt humiliated because you let your buddies down. There's a sense of pride.
I also had a perfectionist for a coach. I hated a mistake. Gary Gibbs would grade on the littlest things. He would give you a negative for a false step. That false step could be the difference in the game. That's the mindset he's trying to teach you. I see kids today making the same mistake over and over and over. They forget where the fundamentals come from.
Everybody's diving at people. Shoulder tackling. That's one of the biggest problems we have with kids coming in. They're not being taught on the high school level.
I think the spread can be defended. Alabama does it well. But it's that one X factor. Even if you play good sound defense, and everybody does their job, no matter what you do, you're not going to have the answer every single play. Before Alabama played A&M, I predicted A&M would upset ‘em, and I predicted Manziel for the Heisman, only because I saw him develop.
That A&M team, when they left the Big 12, everybody wrote them off. They're going to get smashed for 12 straight games. (Kevin) Sumlin took that program that everybody wrote off, and he got everybody to believe, then he brought in the best unpredictable athlete to lead that team. That's how you create magic.
That's kind of the problem I have with Collin Klein, his predictability. He's established this is what we do, this is how we do it, we don't make mistakes, but we're not going to do anything crazy. He's a tough athlete. But I don't think he's anywhere in the same breath with a Johnny Manziel. I want Johnny's unpredictability.
I think Jamelle (Holieway) was a lot like that. Jamelle was a little bit of a wild card. He played in a system where he had to read and feel, be intuitive. He's going to do something unorthodox, and Coach is probably not going to like it. Probably wouldn't work on another team. But because of the personalities we had, with Coach Switzer, ‘Thanks for scoring a touchdown, Boomer Sooner, don't do it again.' Big forgiver.
I love playing against guys like that. It's like a Rubik's cube. You're going to figure it out. It's just a matter of finding his weakness and finding his pattern. Once you get that pattern down, you focus in on it. It's a fine focus. It's a great challenge. Makes football really, really fun.
Your heart beats just a little faster before the ball gets snapped, because you know there's a chance, I don't have him. It's the love of the chase that makes you play.
I have regrets. I let people into my life I shouldn't have let in. Happened later on, that '86 season. I needed a little more humility back in the day. Maybe I'd appreciate it a little bit more.
I was very coachable, but I didn't listen very well. I had to be right. It had to be my way. I had such a dynamic difference between my head coach (Switzer) and my position coach (Gibbs), and because I had the blessing of my head coach, wink,wink, show up on Saturday and be magical, to make sure we not only won the game, but dominated. He enjoyed that.
It grew too wild in my head. I probably drank too much of my own kool-aid. I wish I had not done too much of those things. Calmed some of that down. Letting that outside influence come in, my agent, saying, we're going to take you, you're so big now, on your own, just imagine if I got my hands on you.
I love that school (OU) more than anything I have in my life. I've always thought of myself as a Sooner, and it was always my dream to do what I did. It was my dream come true. Broke my heart that I let them down the way I did. But I gave everything, passion, body, soul. Because the bottom line was, I wanted to win. I wanted to continue the tradition I grew to love. I think they (fans) realized that passion came from a really true place. It wasn't contrived.
My goal was to make our school the absolute best during the time I was there. I remember Picture Day. I'd stand out there for hours, saying, I can't leave a whole line. I gotta sign for everybody. I didn't want to disappoint anybody. That's how I was. I didn't want to disappoint Coach Switzer. So that was my goal. My state and my team and my fans, I think they know that.Collected Wisdom: Brian Bosworth