Steve Davis winced at the thought of seeing himself in the newspaper. On a Sunday? On the cover? Time was, Davis had a nearly permanent spot in the pages of the papers.
As Oklahoma's starting quarterback in the glory days of the '70s, he lived in the spotlight. He sneezed, and people knew. He talked, and people listened. They still do. He just isn't talking as much.
"I've just learned I can't be a learner and a student if I'm doing all the talking,” Davis said. "I've decided to talk less and listen more.”
He has all but disappeared from the public eye.
This is a man who used to travel all over the state speaking to groups, a man who spent almost two decades as a television broadcaster. Talking was one of the things he did best. Now, speaking engagements are rare.
His speech earlier this week at the Business and Community Leadership Luncheon was his first in many years. Davis only did it because Don Jimerson, his freshman coach back in 1971, was being honored for 40-plus years at OU.
A packed room at the Petroleum Club listened to his tales of glory and his stories of woe.Life, you see, has not always been kind to Davis.So much of his story is a fairy tale. As a kid, Davis decided he would some way, some day play for OU. When he eventually laid hold of a recruiting brochure, he tore off the back flap. On it was a picture of the OU huddle on which Davis wrote one simple phrase. "When?"
Davis focused all of his attention on that goal, and yet as a senior quarterback at Sallisaw High, he was not highly recruited. Leon Cross recruited that area for the Sooners back then, and he was skeptical about Davis being a Division I player. Watching film, Cross saw that the kid was neither very big nor very fast. "But all he did was win,” Cross remembered. "Every time he got under that center, they moved the ball and they did things right.”
Cross offered a scholarship, and Davis arrived on campus as the eighth-string quarterback."That didn't bother me,” Davis said of being so far down the depth chart. "What bothered me was ... Larry McBroom had hurt his shoulder in the All-State game. His shoulder was in a sling." He was No. 7.
Two years later, Davis was the Sooner starter. Over the next three seasons, he lived his fairy tale. He led the Sooners to back-to-back national championships, winning 28 consecutive games during one stretch and finishing with a 32-1-1 career record. Davis was the golden boy of the Sooners in the '70s. That reputation, though, went beyond what he did on the field. He was the boy next door, quick to shake your hand, look you in the eye and give you a smile.
Former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis, left, helped the Sooners win back-to-back national titles and 28 consecutive games during one stretch. He finished with a 32-1-1 career record. BY Jim Argo, The Oklahoman Archive