Game of life: Walt Huffman coached future Miss America Jayne Jayroe
Looking back: 1992 Pizza Hut caper
It's been 20 years since a simple, fun promotion went awry for the University of Central Oklahoma athletic department and a national pizza chain.
A fan was chosen by drawing from a Wantland Stadium football crowd to try a 35-yard field goal. A missed kick, and the contestant would get an A for effort. A successful kick, and the contestant would entitle each fan a free medium pie coupon good at two Pizza Hut locations in Edmond.
Tobey Simpson of Oklahoma City wound up as the person who would attempt the kick — and the UCO student just happened to be a homecoming queen escort that afternoon. Simpson, still wearing a tie, shed a shoe and sock. He lined up for the kick and barefooted the ball between the uprights with room to spare.
Simpson became a popular dude to everyone in the crowd, who walked out with one coupon.
Little did UCO officials know that two years earlier, in 1988, Simpson was an Oklahoman All-City honorable mention kicker for Westmoore High School. That 35-yarder was easy money for Simpson.
And little did UCO officials know that fans would take the black and white coupons and make copies and copies and more copies.
In a 1992 Oklahoman story, Bronchos sports information director Mike Kirk said approximately 3,000 coupons were used over the next 36 hours, most at a Pizza Hut just south of 2nd St. on Broadway in Edmond. The story said people were lined up outside the now-closed restaurant waiting to claim their free pizza pie, courtesy of Simpson's foot.
Simpson's current whereabouts is not known. But Kirk, who remains at UCO, said the Pizza Hut stores in Edmond “got overrun to the point where a couple of employees walked out in the madness. I got an angry phone call that night from one of the managers, and I'm sure (then UCO athletic director Skip Wagnon) did as well. That wasn't such a good time.”
According to The Complete Book of Sports Nicknames, three professional athletes were known as “Mad Dog.”
*Fred Carter, who played the 1969-77 NBA seasons with either Baltimore, Philadelphia or Milwaukee. Carter was traded by the 76ers to Milwaukee in December 1976 for a second-round pick in the 1979 draft. Philly used that choice on Maurice Cheeks, now an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
*Mike Curtis, an All-Pro linebacker from 1965-75 with the Baltimore Colts. Curtis delivered vicious hits to running backs and quarterbacks — and even town clowns. During a game against the Miami Dolphins in Baltimore, a fan ran on the field and picked up the football and started toward the sideline. Curtis charged the intruder and hit him so hard the ball popped loose.
*Bill Madlock, a three-time All-Star infielder who played with six teams over the 1973-87 seasons. Madlock, who had a career .305 batting average, was traded several times involving players with Oklahoma ties: Fergie Jenkins (former Guthrie resident, 89ers pitching coach); the late Bobby Murcer (Oklahoma City native) and Cecil Espy (89ers outfielder).
*Owasso businessman Charles Helscel was an avid deep sea fisherman and game hunter. Helscel won several deep sea tournament championships, particularly in waters off the Hawaiian coasts. He made 15 trips to Africa for hunting expeditions. Helscel also hunted for polar bear on the Arctic Circle. He died recently at age 72.
Odds and ends
*Clicking through The Oklahoman's electronic archives recently and stopped on Sept. 5, 1968. Had to smile at a District A-8 football preview where coaches predicted Dewey to win the championship. The remaining teams' predicted order of finish had: 2. Owasso; 3. Claremore; 4. Wagoner; 5. Vinita; 6. Jenks; and 7. Pawhuska. Hmm. Wonder who would win that district these days? Jenks, maybe?
*D'Angelo Ortiz, the 8-year-old son of Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, was given a contract by the American League team for $5. It was a reward of sorts after D'Angelo hit a home run during a recent Little League Baseball game. He joined his father at a news conference last week announcing David's new two-year deal with the Red Sox.
*Austin Auction Gallery completed its sale of the Darrell and Edith Royal estate on Sunday, and as expected, several of Coach Royal's possessions went for high-dollar amounts. Although Royal had long retired as the Texas Longhorns' legendary coach, he still received championship and bowl rings. A Big 12 title ring from 1999 sold for $17,000, and a 2006 Rose Bowl ring, when Texas trimmed USC 41-38, went for $105,000. But other items sold for big bucks that probably shouldn't have. A pin back badge that said, “Texas Longhorns National Champions 1963” with orange and white ribbons and an attached football charm sold for $550. Find the right garage sale and that badge might sell for a buck.
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