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Oklahoma football: Farewell to a Sooner hero

by Berry Tramel Published: March 18, 2013

Steve Davis died Sunday. A plane crash in South Bend, Ind. Another Sooner football hero gone.

One of the pleasures of my career has been getting to know people that I once admired from afar.


Like Don Haskins. The Bear is an American original, a basketball legend, but before he died a few years ago, I got to know him. I went out to El Paso 12-13 years ago, did a story on him and he took to calling me every once in awhile, just to talk about OSU basketball. Hadn’t played in Stillwater in more than half a century but still felt a connection to his school.

And like Steve Davis. I got to know Steve in the last few years. We were together at functions, or I would call him for some OU story of some kind, and he would occasionally call or email me just to talk Sooner football.

I’m going to write for the Tuesday Oklahoman how Davis in many ways was a quintessential Oklahoman. But for now, I thought I would share a few memories with you.

If you want some great reads, here is Jenni Carlson’s column from 2007, with Steve talking about how he changed his life.

And my column from 2009, when all five OU national title quarterbacks convened for a book signing in Norman, which you can read here.

And here is Jason Kersey’s collected wisdom with Steve Davis from 2012.

Also, after that book-signing column, I blogged some about Davis, which fostered a few interesting comments:

David: “Sooners Illustrated used to have a fold-out in every issue. Now, I see one on occasion, but it is usually spoiled with a small ad at the bottom or side. One fold-out from years ago was of Steve Davis with a simple 31-1-1 (32-1-1) at the bottom. I carefully pulled it from the staples in the middle of the page, pressed the staple holes so that they could not be seen and had it nicely framed. I still have that picture hanging on my den wall.”

Ray: “Great to read about Steve. He had a promising career in broadcasting on college football at a time when those with any accent could not get a chance.”

Gary: “It was a pleasure to be able to see Steve and the well oiled machine operate. They just seem to have the flow that you could watch unfold right before your eyes. Must have been a tremendous pressure on those guys. They were expected to win every time. But that is what makes a good Sooner fan.”

Larry: “Just finished watching a 1975 broadcast of Billy Graham where Steve Davis spoke.”

Jim Fletcher, the author of The Die-Hard Fan’s Guide to Sooner Football, put together the book-signing. He later told me, “Perhaps my favorite interview of all time was at a café with Steve Davis. He’s so articulate, and his recollections so riveting, there was practically no editing of the transcript. I felt good about the book’s potential after visiting with the fellow from Sallisaw.”

I felt good after every visit I had with Steve Davis.


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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