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Collected Wisdom: Former Sooner linebacker Brian Bosworth

by Berry Tramel Published: December 8, 2012

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.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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