Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb was introduced at an event in Norman on Tuesday, and the assembled gathering was told that Lamb had spent two years on football scholarship at Louisiana Tech — OU’s opponent Saturday at Owen Field. Lamb quickly saved the mood by yelling, “Boomer Sooner!”
But Lamb indeed was a La Tech Bulldog, 1990 and 1991. He was a wide receiver recruited out of Enid High School and fondly remembers his Ruston days.
“They were great,” Lamb said. “It was a great experience. Ruston’s a college town, great atmosphere. It was a great experience. Mom and dad weren’t around all the time. I had to make decisions. ‘Where do I decide to go to church? Where do I do my laundry?’ Really good growth experience, team experience. Very good people. Very similar to Oklahoma, just a little more Southern drawl. Southern hospitality.”
Lamb got to Louisiana Tech as a freshman in 1990, the second year the Bulldogs were Division I-A. Lamb redshirted that season, but Tech went 8-3. The Bulldogs lost 16-14 at Auburn and beat Colorado State 31-30 in the regular-season finale to earn an Independence Bowl berth, where Tech tied Maryland 35-35.
The Bulldogs played good football. The next year, Tech opened the season with a 73-3 loss at Houston but didn’t lose again, finishing 8-1-2, including a 12-12 at South Carolina.
“The football was great, because we threw the ball on 1st-and-10, 2nd-and-12, 3rd-and-3 and 4th-and-2,” Lamb said. “Those were our passing downs. We threw it all the time.”
Lamb’s roommate was kicker Chris Boniol, who went on to kick for the Dallas Cowboys and until this season was still helping out Louisiana Tech kickers. Terry Bradshaw, the Steelers quarterback legend, is a Louisiana Tech graduate and hung around the program some. Bobby Slaughter finished second in the nation with 78 catches and made third-team all-American.
“We had some pretty good talent there,” Lamb said. “Lot of good football. We flung the ball all around the field.”
Lamb’s coaching staff was fascinating. Tech’s head coach was Joe Peace, who spent eight years there (1988-95) and went 40-45-3.
But Peace’s brother-in-law was the quarterback coach; that would be Joe Ferguson, the former Arkansas star who played 17 NFL seasons and made 163 quarterback starts for the Buffalo Bills.
Lamb’s position coach was Pat Tilley, who went to Louisiana Tech and played 11 years with the St. Louis Cardinals, making 468 career catches.
The tight ends coach was another Tech alum, Mike Barber, who played 10 NFL seasons at tight end and made 222 career catches.
Over the years, Lamb has helped out with a variety of youth and high school football coaching. “Anything I try to impart on a young person now, what I’m doing, I’m repeating what Pat Tilley told me,” Lamb said. “I learned a great deal from him.”
Lamb played some in 1991 but decided to transfer back home. He spent the summer of 1991 in Ruston and figures the long stretches away from Oklahoma drew him back.
“When you’re 20, you kind of think you know a lot of stuff,” Lamb said. “I don’t think I ever got homesick, but after two years of being away for that long, I was ready to come home, see friends, see family, try a different atmosphere athletically.”
Lamb’s father, Norman, a former state legislator, is a long-time OU fan. “I was raised a Sooner,” Todd Lamb said. But he decided to transfer to OSU, where he thought he would fit in best. Lamb spent two years as a non-scholarship receiver for Pat Jones before finally giving up football.
“Finally had the epiphany I wouldn’t play pro football, either in this country or Canada,” Lamb said. “I said, ‘I’ve enjoyed it. This has been a great time of my life,’ but I hung up the cleats and pursued other things at Oklahoma State.”
Obviously, it’s worked out well. Lamb served in the Secret Service, entered Oklahoma politics and served eight years in the state senate before being elected lieutenant governor in 2010.
“You look back, I wouldn’t trade my experience playing college football for anything,” Lamb said. “The grit it teaches you, the teamwork, individual accountability. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything … funny how life works out. Never in my wildest dreams as a freshman in Ruston, La., did I think the Bulldogs would head to Norman as I was lieutenant governor.”
But come Saturday, Lamb makes one thing clear. “I’m not pulling for the Bulldogs now,” he said. “I’m for the hometown team. The crimson and cream.”