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Oklahoma State football: Phil Cutchin's Cowboys still share bond

COMMENTARY — Cowboys of the 1960s survived brutal workouts under a disciple of Bear Bryant.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 4, 2012

/articleid/3706969/1/pictures/1817828">Photo - Phil Cutchin was hired by OSU to revive the Cowboy football program, and beat Oklahoma in 1965 and 1966.Photo provided
Phil Cutchin was hired by OSU to revive the Cowboy football program, and beat Oklahoma in 1965 and 1966.Photo provided

Guys who stay through that kind of experience are drawn tight.

“We went through such a hardship when we lost so many of our friends, the ones that stuck it out, we had a bond,” Click said.

That's why he's financing the reunion.

“That's what these guys mean to Jim Click,” Click said. “Might be the last chance we all get to see one another, all at once. That was a special group of time for those players and a special time for me.”

Cutchin is not remembered fondly by all of his survivors.

“There was no relationship between players and coaches,” Kessler said. “They might as well have been 115 years old. It was much more run like a military organization.

“Cutchin, he didn't have much of a personality to me. He had a hard time making decisions. He used to wear a shirt with front pockets on both sides. He had a pack of Winstons in one, Salem in the other. We said he couldn't decide what kind of cigarette to smoke.”

But Kessler also recalls OSU's 1966 game against Arkansas.

“We went to Little Rock … 15 black guys, maybe 10 black guys on the team,” Kessler said. “We go check in at the big hotel downtown, they said the black guys couldn't stay. Cutchin said, ‘The hell with you.' We got on the bus and went to North Little Rock and stayed at the Holiday Inn. He treated everybody fair.”

Click speaks fondly of Cutchin but also reels off name after name of good football players who left OSU.

“If Phil Cutchin had it to do over again, he'd have found a way to keep those guys,” Click said. “I think Phil thought that was the way he had to get us ready.”

By 1968, Cutchin was finished. His six-year run as coach had failed to ignite OSU football. His record was 19-38-2.

But Cutchin brought in some of the greatest players in OSU history. Jon Kolb. Jerry Sherk. John Henry Ward. John Little.

“We had some good players,” Kessler said. “Just didn't have enough of 'em.”

Garrison said Cutchin accomplished what OSU needed: “Getting rid of dead weight taking up scholarships.”

But the treatment of players is what Cutchin is known for.

Before Cutchin died in 1999 at the age of 79, he attended Click's 50th birthday celebration.

Click's mother was there, too, and Cutchin told her, “Mrs. Click, I can see in your eyes, you still hate me.”

Said Mrs. Click, “I do.”

But Cutchin's old players don't hate him. They're in a way thankful, for what he provided.

Memories. Memories and a bond that will last forever, even if this weekend is the last time Cutchin's Cowboys will be together.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at

Phil Cutchin

Born: Sept. 9, 1920, Mayfield, Ky.

Hometown: Murray, Ky.

College: University of Kentucky.

Military: U.S. infantry 1943-45, 1950-51.

Assistant coaching career: Ohio Wesleyan 1947-49, Kentucky 1952-53, Texas A&M 1954-57, Alabama 1958-62.

Head coaching career: Oklahoma State 1963-68 (19-38-2 record).

Died: Jan. 7, 1999, in Tulsa.

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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