"(Happy Birthday to) a man that inspired respect and understood the importance of allowing each of us to maintain our individuality. No Barry Switzer, no Little Joe and no silver shoes."
2005: Switzer and Little Joe
In this photo from the 2005 OU-K-State game, Switzer and Joe Washington chat and watch the action. PHOTO BY STEVE SISNEY, The Oklahoman
Then when Washington was a senior, the Sooners lost 23-3 at home to Kansas in one of the more shocking defeats in program history. Although that team recovered to win its second consecutive national championship, Washington is still haunted by the Nov. 8, 1975, loss to the Jayhawks.
“I think I probably could’ve done more, but you just have to live with it,” Washington said solemnly. “We lost seven fumbles, had two blocked kicks, had two interceptions. We shouldn’t have lost the game, but we did.
“And the tie with Southern Cal … We could’ve won three national championships. My sophomore year, we were probably the best team ever. We didn’t know it. It was (Switzer’s) first year. We just didn’t understand how good we were. After that particular game, all bets were off.”
Current OU coach Bob Stoops led the program to its seventh national championship in 2000 — his second season on the job — but hasn’t been able to win another one since then, despite playing in three more title games.
The Alabama victory, to Washington, is a sign that big things could be in store for Stoops’ 2014 squad.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re turning things to the natural order of how it has been and how it should be,” Washington said. “Our guys are experiencing what it has been around here, and what my group was part of. It’s something they hadn’t been able to experience.
“Hopefully this can be contagious to the point where it spills over to every player.”