Collected Wisdom: Jimmy Harris

By Berry Tramel Published: January 4, 2009
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photo - TOP: Former OU quarterback Jimmy Harris, right, shown with coach Bud Wilkinson in 1956. Harris said the reason he came to Oklahoma was because of Wilkinson. ABOVE: Harris in 1955. Harris quarterbacked two Sooner national championship teams: 1955 and 1956. AP AND THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE PHOTOS
TOP: Former OU quarterback Jimmy Harris, right, shown with coach Bud Wilkinson in 1956. Harris said the reason he came to Oklahoma was because of Wilkinson. ABOVE: Harris in 1955. Harris quarterbacked two Sooner national championship teams: 1955 and 1956. AP AND THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVE PHOTOS
Jimmy Harris was 25-0 as a starting quarterback at OU, 1954-56, leading the Sooners to two national championships. He played four years in the NFL as a defensive back, with 11 career interceptions for the Eagles, Rams, Texans (Chiefs) and Cowboys. He has been a successful Louisiana oil man for decades.

The only bowl game I played in was in Miami (1956). It was a beautiful place. We were all fascinated. Most of us had never been to Florida. The biggest thing was getting in shape. At that time, you didn’t play into December. In those days, we felt we were as good as anybody in the country. We went down there with that attitude.

Jason White came up to me once and said he would trade his Heisman for a national championship. It means everything to me. That’s the ultimate. It’s something I’m very, very proud of.

Bud (Wilkinson) was such a team man. It was all about the team.

We were talented. Very talented. Our first, second and third strings had some great players. Bud didn’t want you big, he wanted you fast and quick.

The best player I ever played with at Oklahoma, I guess my buddy Jerry Tubbs. He was intelligent and he was extremely quick. He could have played anywhere. I’m sure other people may have had more talent. Hell, I say that, if he’d been lifting weights and the whole shooting match, he’d have been a 250-pound linebacker. He was quick, quick, quick.

My favorite teammate was probably Clendon Thomas. He was real smart. He roomed with the quarterback. Clendon, he had a great attitude. Tommy (McDonald, the other halfback) loved Tommy. I hate to say that. Tommy was a good team man. But Clendon was better. Both made all-pro. Clendon was not like "give me the ball, give me the ball, give me the ball.” It was what’s best for the team.



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