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Oil Bowl's likely end follows decline of all-star football games

Despite its rich history, it looks like the Oil Bowl as we know it is through. In recent years, the popularity of games like the Oil Bowl and the OCA All-State Games have taken a dive, beginning with freshmen eligibility in college football.
by Ryan Aber Published: March 16, 2013

FOOTBALL OU UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA BARRY SWITZER B 1977 27.jpg: Caption reads "University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, far right, talks to three OU recruits at Oil Bowl workouts Wednesday. From left, they are Keith Wilson, Putnam West; Byron Paul, Altus; and John Higginbothan, Hugo." Photographer unknown. Date photo was taken unknown. Photo published in The Daily Oklahoman 8-4-1977.

Tinker Owens' first trip to the Oil Bowl in Wichita Falls, Texas, was a big one.

Owens and his parents crammed into his older brother's 1955 Chevy to go watch Steve play in the 1966 game.

“My dad drove it in third gear all the way because he couldn't get the gears figured out,” Owens said. “The AC didn't work very well in that old Chevy and it was a long ride. I'd never been past Oklahoma City.”

Six years later, Tinker Owens was playing in front of an estimated 20,000 fans in the annual all-star game between Oklahoma and Texas.

“It was a great experience,” Owens said. “We had a great time down there. I became friends with (Jimbo) Elrod and Larry Briggs at the all-state game before that and we had a really good time there. They treated us great.”

Now, it doesn't look like any other Oklahoma athletes will get that chance.

Last week, Oklahoma Coaches Association officials said an agreement between the OCA and game organizers had been breached and that Oklahoma wouldn't send a team there again until the disagreement was resolved.

Oil Bowl organizers said they hoped the series could be resumed, but it appears doubtful that will happen.

The charitable money that the game earned — more than $18,000 last year — was given solely to the Shriners Hospitals instead of being divided between the hospitals and Oklahoma charities.

Oil Bowl officials said the sides agreed on the one-year change, while OCA Executive Director Milt Bassett said his side had never agreed for all the money to be donated to that cause. The OCA, he said, had planned on giving the money to the American Cancer Society instead.

In recent years, the popularity of games like the Oil Bowl and the OCA All-State Games has taken a dive.

“All all-star games are about to play out as far as making money,” Bassett said. “There's so many of them and the colleges aren't letting the D-I kids play anymore.

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by Ryan Aber
OU Athletics Reporter
Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The...
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