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Oklahoma high school coaching legend Mike Little dies

By SCOTT WRIGHT, Staff Writer, swright@opubco.com Modified: January 31, 2011 at 9:56 am •  Published: January 29, 2011
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/articleid/3536702/1/pictures/1358807">Photo - Mike Little
Mike Little

He won another title with Putnam City North in 1991. He also revived struggling programs at Yukon and Bethany.

“Yukon was 0-10 the year before he came and we went 10-2 his first year,” said Millwood principal Avery Gilliland, who was a junior at Yukon in Little's first season at the school in 1992. “He coached us differently. It wasn't about schemes. It was about repetition and doing things right.”

That was the foundation of Little's philosophies. He didn't talk to his kids about the importance of winning, but instead, kept the focus on the simple parts of the game. And by doing the little things right, his teams found success. “He held you accountable and pushed you to find new details to learn,” said Scott Burger, who played for Little at PC West and coached under him at PC North, where he is still on staff. “It's amazing the number of programs that have some little piece of him, from the way the kids act to the plays that are being called.”

Little's impact on people wasn't forced, nor was it based in arrogance. Little was a wise man who spoke with confidence and whose presence commanded attention.

“He touched a lot of lives and had a positive impact on so many people, even he probably doesn't realize the number of people he touched and motivated and taught to do the right things,” said Millican, who played and coached under Little at PC West and is now the head coach at Grove.

“Some people talk to hear themselves talk. Not him. He always had a certain charisma. When he spoke, people listened, and usually, anything he said had a reason behind it.”

On the list of the state's greatest high school football coaches, Little's name isn't far from the top.

“As far as I'm concerned,” said Burger, “he's No. 1 — by far.”

For as good a football coach at Little was, he will be remembered as an even better person.

“He taught his kids about life,” Wilson said. “There are life lessons I learned from him that I'm still applying and trying to teach to kids today.

“He was a tremendous football mind, but even more, he was a tremendous father and person — the type of guy you want your kids to grow up to be like.”

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