Steve Davis, who in three years as the University of Oklahoma quarterback had more national championships than defeats, died Sunday in a private plane crash in South Bend, Ind.
According to reports out of Indiana and Tulsa, where the plane originated, the plane experienced mechanical trouble and crashed Sunday afternoon.
The Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet had left Tulsa's Jones Riverside Airport and crashed near South Bend Regional Airport, said FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said. Three houses were struck in the crash, officials said.
Four people were on board when the plane crashed and there were two confirmed deaths, Herwig said.
Davis, a 1971 graduate of Sallisaw High School, won the OU quarterback job in 1973, when heir apparent Kerry Jackson was ruled ineligible, and Davis ran the wishbone offense for Barry Switzer's first three seasons as head coach.
OU went 32-1-1 those three seasons, winning national titles in 1974 and 1975. Davis, a Baptist preacher who also was a huge Willie Nelson fan, became a cult hero and public speaker in much demand.
“I felt like I was on the university plane more than the president,” Davis told The Oklahoman a few years ago.
Davis came to OU from Sallisaw High School and always joked that in 1972, when he redshirted, he was the eighth-team quarterback, and the seventh-team quarterback, Larry McBroom, had a separated shoulder.
But Davis quickly moved up the depth chart. He wasn't OU's flashiest optioneer, but he rivaled Jimmy Harris, Bud Wilkinson's unbeaten quarterback from the 1950s, as the most efficient.
Davis' only defeat came in 1975, a 23-3 setback to Kansas at Owen Field, when Davis heard boos.
“People said, ‘Steve, the boos weren't that bad,'” Davis told The Oklahoman a few years ago. “Well, it was bad enough for my parents to hear it. It was bad enough for the entire team to hear it.
“It was very painful, and I remember shaking my fist at them. It was a defiant moment on my part, but it also was a defining moment for our team. We made a conscientious effort that for the rest of the way, we were playing for us.
“The Kansas loss was one of the greatest lessons that athletics ever gave.”
After his OU career, Davis became a television analyst for ABC sports. He was involved in a variety of Tulsa business ventures over the years.