Tales from the trail: Barry Switzer's last-minute trip nabs Steve Sewell

Switzer made a late-night flight to meet with the family of Sewell, who went on to play for the Denver Broncos. Once there he discovered Sewell was a more impressive prospect than he realized. And the reason for Sewell's interest in the Sooners was even more of a surprise to coaches.
BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: January 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm •  Published: January 29, 2011
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Thirty years ago, recruiting often came down to the final days before national signing day. Rarely did a player commit months in advance.

Former Oklahoma assistant coach Scott Hill has dozens of recruiting stories, including once hiding in a player's trunk to secretly meet the player away from rival coaches camped out at his house.

But Hill's favorite recruiting tale occurred in 1981 when he convinced an agitated Barry Switzer to fly to San Francisco to meet running back Steve Sewell's parents.

Hill had flown to California earlier to visit Sewell. He brought back 8 mm tape. Switzer wasn't sold. Hill in vain tried to persuade the staff to offer Sewell.

Weeks later, when a running back OU was recruiting committed to another school, Switzer told Hill to offer Sewell.

"I called Steve the Friday before signing day and told his mom and dad we had a scholarship," Hill said. "His dad threw a fit. He said, 'No way! Every coach that has offered has been in my home and talked to me personally. Until Coach Switzer comes out and talks to me, he's not coming!'"

Switzer wasn't thrilled, but he took a late-night flight to San Francisco to meet with Sewell and his family on Monday.

When Switzer arrived, he learned Notre Dame coach Gerry Faust had visited Sewell the night before. USC coach John Robinson and UCLA coach Terry Donahue were also making a strong push for the Riordan High School running back.

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