"(Happy Birthday to) a much loved coach. I am deeply humbled by the great honor you bestowed upon me as I faced the greatest of sorrow and defeat. I appreciate that you looked past each 'player' to see each 'man.'"
1979: Switzer at the stadium
In this 1979 photo, Switzer poses prior to the Sooners' season. The Sooners finished 11-1 that year with a win over Florida State in the Orange Bowl. OU's only loss was to Texas. PHOTO BY DON TULLOUS, The Oklahoman Archive
Those are just some of the people who impacted Switzer's life. But remaining are plenty of people whose lives were impacted by Switzer.
Switzer perhaps is not as influential on Oklahoma culture as was Bud Wilkinson. Perhaps not as iconic as Henry Iba. Perhaps Bob Stoops' revival or Eddie Sutton's renaissance were more impressive.
But most beloved coach? That's a landslide. There's never been a more popular coach in this state than the transplant from Crossett, Ark.
From lifelong friends to autograph-seeking strangers in a diner, Switzer has been nothing if not a man of the people. Presidents or paupers, it seems not to matter to Switzer. “I've never thought anything about it,” Switzer said.
Switzer's old players swear by him. Even Bob Stoops calls Switzer the King. But it's not just the football crowd who march in step.
I once knew an elderly Holiness preacher. Fire and brimstone and the old ways. Most every stereotype you could imagine. You'd think they wouldn't be too keen on Switzer, a self-admitted rascal in many ways.
Through a mutual friend, the Holiness preacher and his wife met Switzer and were totally smitten. Had Switzer over to eat fried quail. Switzer visited the preacher in the hospital.
Man of the people. The stories are endless of Switzer's connection with common folk in a life that now has reached 75 years and is flying by.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.