NORMAN — A woman handed Barry Switzer a T-shirt to sign and admitted she hadn't expected to see him at Sooner Mall when she arrived to do some shopping Saturday afternoon.
“I run around with Santa,” the legendary former OU football coach replied with a big grin.
Another fan asked Switzer if he remembered playing poker with him at a mid-1980s banquet.
“You took all my money,” the man said with a laugh.
“And then I gave it back!” Switzer correctly remembered. “How many guys take your money and give it back?”
A renowned man of the people, Switzer signed autographs, posed for pictures and helped Allstate give away five pairs of tickets to the Jan. 2 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, where No. 11 Oklahoma will meet No. 3 Alabama.
Switzer also spoke with The Oklahoman about the Sugar Bowl matchup, Bedlam and Sooners wide receiver Sterling Shepard, whose late father, Derrick, played for Switzer in the 1980s.
Q: How do you like the Sooners' chances against Alabama?
A: Well I told Bob (Stoops) the other night, “You had the worst draw of everybody for bowl games.” These guys could've been one play from being in the national championship game again. I said, “You weren't very lucky.” And especially with the injuries they have, and as young as they are, it's not a vintage Oklahoma team. But they'll be ready to play, and they'll go play hard. They'll be prepared.
What did you think of the Bedlam game?
Well, nothing surprises me in that game. The game I saw them play against Baylor, I was impressed with them on both sides of the ball. They looked a little more consistent than we did offensively and defensively, but we made the plays when we had to. Shepard, Saunders and the difference makers. We hung around. When you hang around in the fourth quarter, you've got a helluva chance to win it.
Is it neat for you to see Derrick Shepard's son out there performing as well as he does?
He's a better athlete than his dad. His dad was a good player, but his dad was a walk-on, an overachiever. Sterling possesses more physical talent. That's my opinion. And I think his dad would tell you the same thing.