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Oklahoma-Texas A&M football: The man who linked Bud Wilkinson and Bear Bryant's programs

Bobby Drake Keith was a Junction Boy, and he was on Bear Bryant's first Alabama coaching staff. But he also coached for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma. He's conflicted about the upcoming Cotton Bowl.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 23, 2012


photo - OU coaching staff, from left: Gomer Jones, unidentified, Bobby Drake Keith (third from left), unidentified, unidentified, Bud Wilkinson. PHOTO PROVIDED
OU coaching staff, from left: Gomer Jones, unidentified, Bobby Drake Keith (third from left), unidentified, unidentified, Bud Wilkinson. PHOTO PROVIDED

“I think I swallowed enough dirt that I'm starting to gain weight,” Keith is quoted in the book.

Today, he downplays the harshness of Junction.

“The thing people don't realize, a lot of those things that sounded so bad, no water, the heat, nobody got water in those days,” Keith said.

The most terrible time was not Junction, but that 1-9 season. But Bryant held the team together. He told the Aggies, “The fans don't want you anymore, the alumni don't want you, but you're my team.”

Keith is most proud that when Bryant died in 1982, “the only ring he had on was the ring we gave to him 20 years after Junction.”

Keith's final game coaching at Alabama was the 1963 Alabama, when the Tide shut out OU 17-0.

Wilkinson offered Keith a job on the OU staff.

“At that time, I had aspirations of being a head coach,” Keith said. “I thought there was no better resume than Bear Bryant and Bud Wilkinson.”

Keith's only reservation? Rumors that Wilkinson might retire. Even told Wilkinson.

“I've got a son in medical school and one in divinity school,” Wilkinson told him. “I can't retire.”

Of course, Wilkinson did just that a year later.

But Keith's three years as a Sooner coach made him enough of an Okie to be conflicted in the upcoming OU-A&M Cotton Bowl.

“Got a lot of friends here at OU,” Keith said. “Two children went to OU. Lot of wonderful ties to A&M.”

No bigger ties in Aggieland than being a Junction Boy.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. 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 newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
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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