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Switzer puts rocky past aside with Thompson

By George Schroeder Published: August 1, 2004
Perhaps the person most damaged by Charles Thompson's 1989 arrest for selling cocaine other than Thompson himself, of course was Barry Switzer. The incident might have been the biggest blow in a series of events that forced Switzer's resignation from OU in June 1989.

But 10 years later, former coach and player reconciled and Switzer made the first move. At the funeral of former Sooner Derrick Shepard, Switzer pulled Thompson aside. They huddled for a few minutes of conversation. And bygones, they said, were bygones.

"I owed him an apology, and he probably owed me one," Switzer said. "It was the first time I'd ever had the opportunity to go off and visit about an incident I felt badly about."

Switzer was referring to the 1989 theft of 25 championship rings and other memorabilia from his Norman residence. Otha Armstrong, a Lawton High School graduate and one-time friend of Thompson, was convicted of the crime. Armstrong initially told police Thompson was an accomplice a charge Switzer says was later exposed as false. But in Switzer's 1990 book, "Bootlegger's Boy," he repeated Armstrong's accusation against Thompson.

"I wrote it as a fact, and it wasn't," Switzer said.

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