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How Jim Click brought Oklahoma State, Arizona together

Berry Tramel: Former OSU standout opened the door for a football series with the school he's adopted.
by Berry Tramel Modified: June 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm •  Published: June 28, 2011

“Hello, Oklahoma,” Jim Click answered the phone, not knowing who was calling but knowing where they were from.

Forty years in the Arizona desert, and Click hasn't forgotten the 405 area code. Hasn't forgotten his days as tri-captain of OSU's historic 1965 football team.

“I can talk all day about Oklahoma,” said Click, who graduated from Altus High School in 1962 and from Oklahoma State in 1966. Then Click proves it, jumping from story to story about his days in Stillwater, as one of Phil Cutchin's survivors.

And yet, there was a day last year, and there will be a day this year and next, when Click uses the term “we” and won't mean the Cowboys.

The Jim Click Auto Group is one of the nation's largest, which has been as large as 24 dealerships in southern Arizona. Click bought Pueblo Ford in 1971 at the age of 27; now he's a Tucson institution.

“I made most of my money in Arizona,” Click said.

But Click talks like he made most of his memories during four years in Stillwater.

“Best four years of my life,” he said.

* *

Click entered the car business through his great uncle, Holmes Tuttle, who was a postwar Los Angeles auto dealer and rose to great wealth and influence. Even headed Ronald Reagan's unofficial “kitchen cabinet.” Helped get Reagan elected governor of California in 1966.

Holmes Tuttle, from the family for whom Jason White's hometown was named, is in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

Click's father was raised by the Tuttles and got into the car business himself, opening a Chevy dealership in 1958.

When Click graduated from OSU, he went to California, worked five years for Holmes Tuttle's company and then purchased the Tucson Ford dealership.

Now Click is a Tucson icon, one of its most influential and respected philanthropists, and a big supporter of the University of Arizona. A few years ago, Cigar Aficianado magazine profiled three of the most generous boosters in collegiate athletics. OSU's Boone Pickens, Louisville's Sam Rechter and Arizona's Jim Click.

“If you take from a community, you've got to give back,” Click has said repeatedly.

One of Click's involvements is UofA athletics, not just with finances, but with relationships. Arizona football coach Mike Stoops has raved about Click's moral support; when then-athletic director Jim Livengood flew to Norman in 2003 to interview Stoops, Click made the trip, too.

So the 2010 Alamo Bowl — OSU vs. Arizona — was a torn-between-two-lovers plot for Click.

It's not like he hasn't donated to OSU, too. Click has endowed a scholarship for the center position and the defensive tackle position, for his old pal Hugh McCrabb. In the OSU football complex is a testament from Click on what the university and football program meant to him.

“Obviously, I'm grateful to Oklahoma State for the education I received,” Click said. “I love Mike Holder. I like our coach, too. I come back every two, three years.”

But all those years in Tucson means “we” is Arizona.

Click wore a red shirt to the Alamo Bowl, given to him by Holder, and jokingly told Holder he had no one to blame but himself. Click said he was “embarrassed” by 'Zona's 36-10 loss. Hopes the Wildcats can perform better on Sept. 8, when Arizona plays at OSU, and next season, when the Cowboys make the return trip.

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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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