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.
After returning to campus, Switzer confessed Sewell was a more ballyhooed prospect than he realized.
"Coach Switzer told me, ‘You should have seen all the coaches at his house. This kid must be really good,'" Hill said. "He was holding out for us. Obviously, Coach Switzer was glad he made the trip. He started for us as a freshman and later was a first-round pick with the Denver Broncos."
Hill said Sewell is an example that you never know what sways a recruit.
Sewell didn't grow up watching the Sooners. An old military base on the north side of OU's campus played a key role.
"On his visit, as we were riding around, he told me he wanted to go out to the old Air Force base," Hill said. "I asked him, 'Why?' He said, 'Because my father was stationed here in the '50s. That's why I like Oklahoma.' That's how he got interested in OU in the first place."