Bob Stoops and Mack Brown meet for the 15th, and perhaps final, time on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl. It’s one of the nation’s longest-ever coaching rivalries.
For my Wednesday column in The Oklahoman, I talked with Stoops about his relationship with Brown. You can read that column here.
It’s a professional relationship. They are not chums. Neither are they enemies.
The same can’t be said about a lot of rivals. Barry Switzer and Pat Jones were quite friendly during their Bedlam days. Switzer and Tom Osborne weren’t close friends while competitors but always maintained a deep respect for each other, despite their differences in background and personality. Of course, Switzer and Darrell Royal were famous enemies when they coached in the OU-Texas rivalry. And to come full circle, Switzer played for Frank Broyles at Arkansas, who was a great friend of Royal’s. Royal and Broyles formed the longest rivalry in major-college coaching history, 19 years.
Switzer said he and Osborne had a good relationship, “because of several reasons. Mack and Bob have had, I’d say, a very good relationship. Better than I and Coach Royal did.
“The reason Tom and I had a great relationship, and I say great, we were competitive, and obviously, he didn’t want to lose like he did to Oklahoma when we were here.
But at the same time, we never really competed for players. We very seldom, once or twice a year, we would compete for the same players.”
That’s different than OU-Texas. They often are battling for the same players.
“When Oklahoma recruits south of the Red River, for Oklahoma to compete, we’ve got to recruit extremely well down there,” Switzer said.
In Switzer’s day, “it wasn’t A&M, it wasn’t Baylor, it wasn’t TCU. It came down to Oklahoma and Texas. We were the only ones winning championships.
“Nebraska and Oklahoma, there wasn’t the recruiting saga involved.”
These days, it seems the OU-Texas recruiting battles are more rare. More and more big-time programs are recruiting in Texas. OU is recruiting nationally more than ever before.
Is it possible that OU-Texas recruiting tension has lessened, and therefore the tension between coaches is less?
“It might have,” Switzer said. “I don’t know. What’s probably lessening it more is the numbers they recruit now. Back when we were recruiting 30, trying to get all the good players, Oklahoma and Texas were getting all of them, there’s more to go around.
“Now everybody’s getting players. There’s more to go around. Back then, we were all after the same blue-chip player.”