Happy 75th birthday to Barry Switzer, Oklahoma's most beloved coach

Former Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer says the older you get, the faster it goes. But living long and living large has its upside — the adoration and devotion of many.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 5, 2012
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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.

 

Leave a birthday wish for Barry Switzer.

 

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.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.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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...
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