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BOOMINGEST SOONER OF 'EM ALL

Aug. 09, 1976
Aug. 09, 1976

Table of Contents
Aug. 9, 1976

The Montreal Olympics
Baseball
Boomer Sooner
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over
Departments

BOOMINGEST SOONER OF 'EM ALL

Barry Switzer, who was raised under a tar-paper roof in a swamp bottom, says he just likes to coach country boys out to have a yahooing good time playing Oklahoma football

Three years after Oklahoma was put on probation for recruiting violations, having endured forfeits, bowl bans, TV blackouts and poll disqualifications, the Sooners of Coach Barry Switzer will be making their official NCAA-approved debut this season.

This is an article from the Aug. 9, 1976 issue Original Layout

Switzer is not exactly a mystery man—there is no ignoring a 32-1-1 record, three Big Eight championships, two national championships and 28 consecutive victories. Still, the 38-year-old Switzer has been operating in a kind of splendid anonymity. At a time when the reigns of established leaders like Joe Paterno, Darrell Royal and Bear Bryant are in their second, third and fourth decades respectively, could Switzer be the forerunner of a new breed of campus monarchs? What kind of dynasty is he fashioning out there on the plains of Norman?

And so it was that Switzer was searched out, found at the Oklahoma alumni dance following the spring game. A big man surrounded by several big men, he turned slowly when a visitor tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Hi, how ya doin'?"

Boomer Sooner! Just like that, in one stunning instant it was overwhelmingly clear what Switzer and his Sooners are all about. It had nothing to do with the firm handshake. Nor the broad smile. What revealed all was the fact that Barry Switzer, molder of men, guardian of the grand tradition and the once and future king of the sport, was wearing black horn-rim glasses affixed to a grotesque rubber nose the size of a cucumber!

It was a setup, a joke-shop fakeout as beautifully timed and executed as the Oklahoma wishbone at its triple-option best. And in the explosion of laughter that followed, it remained for Larry Lacewell, Switzer's boyhood friend, chief assistant and irrepressible alter ego, to lend meaning to the mayhem. "Hey," Lacewell cried, brandishing his drink like an Olympic torchbearer, "it's like I always say. We try to make college football fun but it's hard because 80,000 people keep interfering every Saturday."

Fun? Yes. The distinguishing trait of the Switzer Sooners, the mystic something that marks their style and motivates their success, is that they really are, as they keep insisting, just a bunch of country boys having a yahooing good time playing a game they "flat out love."

Make no mistake: Barry Switzer is a hard-driving man. He preaches winning with a fervor that would shame Billy Sunday. He hustles 18 hours a day, burns up the recruiting trails, rouses the rabble at halftime and all the rest. But somewhere along the way Switzer forgot to lose his perspective, he failed to learn that big-time college football is no laughing matter. He says heretical things such as, "Whoever invented this game didn't mean for it to get this big." In sum, the man can't see beyond the end of his rubber nose.

Of course, winning makes grinning easier. And that down-home charm might sour a bit if, say, Oklahoma lost the Texas game, a war of the worlds in its own right. But instant surliness is not likely; in fact, there is every evidence that the Switzer Sooners win because they grin. The players' skits, the gag gifts, practical jokes and general funning around are part of the game plan. Some of it is undeniably sophomoric—which figures, since some of the Sooners are undeniably sophomores. And after all, who primarily is supposed to be enjoying and benefiting from playing college football?

If winning makes for fun city, what does losing bode? Switzer has an inkling. The grumbling was bad enough in 1970 when Switzer, serving as the offensive coordinator under Coach Chuck Fairbanks, introduced the wishbone and nursed it through a 7-4 season. But harder to take was the round of boos on the few occasions when Oklahoma failed to win by its customary four or five touchdowns.

As for this season, Switzer says, "We'll fall off some." Three of OU's 10 departed starters—Defensive Tackle Leroy Selmon, Halfback Joe Washington and Receiver Billy Brooks—were chosen first, fourth and 11th in the NFL draft. "No college has ever had three players go that high," says Switzer. "That shows you the caliber of talent we lost. But heck, in college football you live from year to year. It's a continual thing, a cycle that runs. We've been on Mt. Everest for a while and now....

"But don't get me wrong. We will win. We're going to play well because of who we are. There are too many ghosts around not to be motivated. Lots of places, 8-3 or 7-4 ain't too bad."

Even so, beware Sooner doomers. Switzer has made a profession out of reversing dim prospects. His darkest moment, of course, came when his team was put on probation less than three months after he succeeded Fairbanks, who had resigned to coach the New England Patriots. The probation stemmed from the charge that during Fairbanks' tenure an OU assistant coach knowingly accepted an altered high school transcript for Quarterback Kerry Jackson.

Soon after the probation was announced, Switzer addressed a Tulsa alumni group, his eyes welling with tears. "I'm a fighter! I'm a competitor! I'm a winner!" he said. "And nothing is going to stop us!" Then, easing off with the kind of disarming turn that became the mark of the man, he ended by saying, "I'd better go now. I'm double-parked and I may get another year for that."

Subsequently, Switzer often opened his speeches by saying that he had just received a telegram from President Nixon thanking him for taking the heat off Watergate. If the gag lines got better, his luck most decidedly did not. Beginning with the death of his father, who was killed in an auto accident shortly before Switzer was appointed head coach, misfortune piled on top of mishap. Two of his children developed serious eye defects. His new car, fishing tackle and golf clubs were stolen. His cat was run over. And at one point the bulk of his defensive line was in the hospital.

But there was no looking back; it was autumn and inspirational speech time. "I've been to 11 bowl games in 13 seasons," Switzer told his team. "I've been around a lot of success, a lot of great players. Bowl games and playing on TV are fine incentives. But I'll tell you what, people—the greatest reward in football is winning. That's the most important goal. That's why they have scoreboards. When they put us on probation, they made one mistake. They didn't tell us we couldn't win the Big Eight championship. And nobody said we couldn't win the national championship. Men, that is our challenge."

That first year, the young, unsure Sooner team that was picked to finish no better than fourth in the conference won the Big Eight title and ended up No. 2 in the nation. And then, prodded, cajoled and entertained by Switzer, it won back-to-back national championships. Of those seasons Switzer says, "Walt Disney couldn't have written a better script."

As it was, Barry Lane Switzer starred in his own version of Song of the South. He started at the bottom, the swamp bottom of the Ouachita River in Crossett, Ark. "It's a little town, a sawmill, paper-mill town," he says, "and we had acreage out in the country." He was raised in a shotgun house, so-called, he says, because "you could shoot a blast through one end and out the other without hitting a thing."

Larry Lacewell, who has turned down several head coaching offers to stay with his "runnin' buddy," grew up in Fordyce, just a hoot and a holler up the road from Crossett. He says, "Hey, I thought I was poor till I visited Barry. His house was one of those antebellum jobs up on stilts. You know, the kind with a tar-paper roof and chickens and dogs and hogs underneath."

Switzer says, "We didn't have a telephone till I was in college. I went through junior high studying under coal-oil lamps and listening to battery radios because we didn't have electricity. We had the old privy out back, the three-holer with the Sears, Roebuck catalog and the lime sacks in the corner. At night I used to take my grandmother and mother to the privy carrying a coal-oil lamp and a .22 pistol to shoot the copperheads. My granddaddy planted tomatoes behind that very same privy, and I'll tell you something else—they were the best darned tomatoes in the county."

Switzer churned butter, pumped water for the milk cow and showered under the eaves when a good summer rainstorm blew in. In the winter, he remembers, "Many a morning I'd go out on the back porch, take a gourd we had hanging on the wall and break the ice on the water bucket. We had to take the water into the kitchen and heat it for shaving." Forever missing the "yellow dog school bus," Switzer would hop on passing pulpwood trucks and ride a cord of wood to town. That was about as adventuresome as a Crossett boy's life got, that and an occasional stab at mumblety-peg and stealing watermelons. "There wasn't much to do," Switzer says. "We didn't have many organized sports. There were no tennis courts or golf courses or anything like that. Usually I just went down to the pool hall and played moon, dominoes or snooker."

The action picked up when he entered high school and played football, swam freestyle and put the shot. "My best toss, 53'4", was the local record for seven years until my brother Donnie broke it—but just barely," says Switzer. "Then Karl Salb, the three-time NCAA champ, came along. Shoot, he threw that dang thing 69'6"."

"First time I met Barry was at a state swim meet at the YMCA in Pine Bluff," says Lacewell. "He was a man of the world—been to Little Rock once. He was also bigger than anybody and so when he said he wanted to play cards, we played. Took me and my buddy, Billy Ray Greenwood, for everything we had—$2.50. Next day, me and Billy Ray were out hitchhiking when here comes Switzer whooshing by in this big ol' Greyhound, giving us a wave out the window. Right then I knew nobody'd ever beat out ol' Barry."

Switzer was not accustomed to traveling first class. His father ran a fishing camp off and on and was known to haul in a fair share of contraband whiskey from across the Louisiana border. Since bass fishing and bootlegging were not deemed the most noble of enterprises in Crossett society, Barry spent most of his teen-age years huddling in the backseats of cars while friends picked up his dates.

When he was not working on bull gangs at the paper mill in the summer, Switzer's social outings consisted of "hopping in a pickup truck and taking in a Durango Kid movie or stopping by the café at the bus station, where I'd buy a cup of coffee and a piece of pecan pie for 15¢ and listen to Hank Snow sing I'm Movin' On on the juke." Saturdays were special. "That's when we'd break out the old battery radio and listen to Grand Ole Opry, brought to you by Ad-my-ray-shun Coffee," Switzer says. "But the best time was in the fall when a bunch of us would get together and listen to the college football games. We lived in a dream world of Johnny Lujack and Kyle Rote and Doc Blanchard. Now instead of hearing about Doak Walkers, I'm coaching 'em! It's almost unreal."

The state Lineman of the Year, Switzer was offered a scholarship to Arkansas. He says, "A family friend also got me an appointment to Annapolis, but that just flat scared me to death. So I packed some jeans and socks in a cardboard Early Times box, tied it with twine from the Mercantile Store, put on my Crossett ball jacket and went to the University of Arkansas, not knowing what to expect. I remember they gave me a locker and said, 'This is for your books.' So I locked those books up tight and didn't touch 'em until somebody told me different." Eventually, Switzer not only made the dean's list in business administration but, playing center and linebacker, captained the 1959 team to a share of the Southwest Conference title and a victory in the Gator Bowl.

"I was just about the only player that ever went from Crossett to Arkansas and lettered," says Switzer. "The town thought I was a pretty good guy and had an appreciation day. They had a catfish fry and a Rotary luncheon and gave me $1,000. That was a lot of money in 1960. I remember somebody saying it was the biggest thing that'd happened in Crossett since they sent a fellow to the state pen for 27 years. I think they caught him stealing hogs.

"But the thing I remember about that time was me and my daddy getting up one morning at 5 a.m. and driving my brother Donnie to Montrose with his Early Times suitcase and putting him on the train for Hanover, New Hampshire. Donnie's the smart one. He graduated from Dartmouth on a scholastic scholarship and went through Vanderbilt Law School. Now he's vice-president and legal counsel for General American Life Insurance in Houston."

In 1961, nearing the end of a one-year hitch in the Army, Switzer was offered a job by Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles. "I hadn't been considering coaching," says Switzer, "but I thought, what the heck. I was single. I could live in the dorm. It wouldn't cost much. It might be fun."

It was, and revealing too. "Within six months I was swept up in coaching," Switzer says. "And later, when I visited around the country, went to clinics and met with other staffs, all of a sudden my eyes opened and I said, 'Heck, I know more than these guys and they're head coaches. I can do that.' "

He moved to Oklahoma in 1966 and then, two years and one fateful winter night later, into the busy thoroughfares of Abilene, Texas, to corral a prize prospect. Unable to contain himself, Switzer stopped his car in the middle of the street that night and jumped out with the prospect in tow. Crouching in the eerie glow of the headlights, he began barking signals and then rolled out behind an imaginary line while the traffic screeched around him. Quarterback Jack Mildren, the most coveted high school player in Texas at the time, dug the demonstration and went on to lead the 1971 Sooners and their new wishbone attack to the most productive offensive season in the history of college football.

Why would anyone want to follow a man who runs the triple option against a traffic pattern? "I guess the big thing was I just liked him," says Mildren, now in the oil business in Midland, Texas. "People thought we'd lost our minds," says Switzer of the incident, "but, you know, I get emotionally swept up sometimes."

Like most anytime, even when he is presumably locked away from the world behind the steel "alumni-proof" front doors of his new $150,000 ranch home at 1917 Whispering Pines Circle. Less than a mile from the Norman campus, his sprawling retreat might just as well be on the 50-yard line at Owen Field when, as it inevitably does, the subject of football comes up.

"Boy, it's a great life," Switzer said one afternoon not long ago. He was lounging by his swimming pool in his bathing suit, still virtually the trim 6'1", 207 pounds he was when he played for the Razorbacks. "You know," he went on, "if it was not for football, I'd be working the graveyard shift at the paper mill. Oh, I guess I'll hang it up when it quits affecting me...."

Then, almost as if the first strains of the fight song were wafting through the pines, Switzer leaned forward, stuck out his jaw for emphasis and said, "But I don't see how that will ever happen.... Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner...I mean, man, when you take a team down that ramp to play Texas, you damn well feel the emotion.... Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner.... When you hit the floor of that Cotton Bowl, there's electricity. And if you don't feel it, you oughta go have your saliva checked, fella.... I'm a Sooner born and a Sooner bred.... You watch those young guys going in there for the first time and right away they know they're somewhere special. Whoomp! Whoomp! They hear that hitting, those sounds like two pickup trucks running together out there and their eyes start rolling.... And when I die, I'll be a Sooner dead.... And when you win, boy, that's the best part. Sixteen of us in that pool there at 3 a.m. whooping and hollering...Rah Oklahoma! Rah Oklahoma! ...Boy, that's fun! That's what comes with winning! ...Rah Oklahoma! O.K. U!"

Switzer's wife Kay, arriving with a tray of Coors beers, shook her head. "Oh, those parties," she said. "We must have 150 people in here after the games. The first season I stayed up till 4:30 a.m. making dips. Next season, no dips, just peanuts. This past season, no peanuts, just drinks. I don't especially like messing around in the kitchen but Barry's always asking me to make duck gumbo. You see, my daddy, Slick McCollum, has this duck hunting club in Stuttgart, 2,000 acres, and I know about ducks. Fried squirrel with biscuits and gravy, too, which is my favorite."

Switzer, surrounded by his three children, Greg, 7, Kathy, 6 and Doug, 3, told the youngest to "go get Mommy's duck caller." Kay said, "Sometimes I think the only reason Barry went out with me is because I knew where the bass holes were at Daddy's place. I drove the boat and he fished. One Fourth of July we caught 80 bass. We hunted rabbits, quail, dove, pheasant and chukar. We went frog giggin', too. You'd just run your spotlight along the irrigation ditch and when you saw those big old eyes, you had you a bullfrog. Best frogs you ever tasted, legs bigger than a chicken's."

Then, while Switzer looked on admiringly, Kay did a medley on her duck caller, ending with a fluttering mating cry. "Sure sounds like an oversexed duck to me," Switzer said.

Later, while Barry barbecued a steak on the patio, Kay readied her garlic grits in the kitchen. A petite, energetic brunette, she said, "I met Barry at Arkansas. I was the featured twirler, you know, the drum majorette, and he was captain of the football team. Sounds so silly, doesn't it? Anyway, I was up for homecoming queen and when I came off the stage, here was this big old guy waiting. And he said, 'Okay, little girl, let's go.' And I said, 'Okay.' I thought he was Jim Moody, who was another big football deal. So we dated around a bit, and we were married in 1963.

"We've grown up a lot since then. He's come into himself a lot more, but sometimes I feel sorry for him. There are so many demands made on his time. He's always off speaking somewhere. He hasn't learned how to say no yet. That'll change, I know, but in a way I don't have him anymore. He is the public's."

Switzer is most definitely the prize property of Greater Soonerdom, or "north of Dallas and south of Wichita," as he defines it. In one typically hectic week this spring he made his appointed rounds like a Dust Bowl twister, touching down just long enough to make his whirling presence felt.

The week began shortly after dawn with Switzer casting his favorite chartreuse spinner into a farm pond on the outskirts of Norman. But, as usual these days, he was not alone. ABC-TV was out in force and Announcer Keith Jackson was seated next to Switzer on the bank, quizzing him about the upcoming season. Just as Jackson posed the inevitable question about Texas, Switzer twitched—not out of sensitivity to the subject but to set his hook. "Hey, how 'bout that," Switzer cried, pulling in a flopping 1½-pound small-mouth. "People are gonna think this interview was fixed." The producer, Terry Jastrow, was jubilant. "American Sportsman spends a month trying to get footage like that," he said.

A farmer who had wandered out to see what that man with a TV camera was doing up in his tree had a more piquant observation. "Y'all like poison ivy?" he asked Switzer and Jackson. "Well, y'all must 'cause you're sittin' in a mess of it."

Three afternoons later, after a speaking date, Switzer was barreling down Interstate 35 in his red-and-white Cadillac Coupe deVille en route to yet another appearance. Jerry Pettibone, his recruiting coordinator, was at the wheel, talking into a CB radio microphone. "You got old Big Red southbound," Pettibone crooned. "Whatta ya got?" In answer to the crackling reply from a woman, he said, "Okay, Brown Eyes, you shake the trees, I'll rake the leaves."

Switzer, sitting in the backseat and sipping from a tumbler of Chivas Regal, said, "We travel a bunch up and down this road recruiting. Call ourselves the Red River Raiders. And the CB radio helps us go faster, cover more territory. We got to. Shoot, they got more 6'3", 250-pound guys in Los Angeles County than we got in all of Oklahoma. And there are a whole lot more guys playing football in Texas than anywhere. So we got to move out. It's a mathematical equation."

Kicking off his shoes and curling up on the seat, Switzer continued, "One of the reasons for the great Oklahoma tradition is that everybody is united in this state. Some people here may not have heard of Will Rogers or Mickey Mantle or Johnny Bench, home-grown boys, but everybody sure knows about Oklahoma football. You walk into towns in this state and it's all Big Red, baby. It's a common bond. There aren't but three major universities in Oklahoma, but in Texas there are about 13 major schools alone, and allegiances are divided. Here it's oil and Oklahoma football.

"This place we're going to today, Ardmore, is supposed to have more millionaires per capita than anywhere. Oil millionaires. And they're all looking for tax write-offs. So we tell 'em 'If you're going to give $100,000 to the government, why not give it to our athletic program instead and get a 100% write-off?' These guys help us in all kinds of ways. Hey, we got 60 airplanes at our disposal. We use 'em to bring in recruits or fly the staff and their wives down to Las Vegas or the Bahamas for some deep-sea fishing. These men help us. We help them by giving them a winning football team. Here, give me that thing."

Leaning forward, Switzer took the CB mike and said, "Hey, 18-wheeler, this is Mr. Pigskin. Where's your home 20?" Blue Tanker said he was from Dallas. "Thought so," Switzer said. "What kinda team Texas gonna have, Blue Tanker?" "The best," Blue Tanker said, adding that two of his first cousins were on the Longhorns. "Well, maybe you'll think differently when Oklahoma makes it six in a row this season," Switzer said. Blue Tanker cackled. "Okay, Blue Tanker, put the pedal to the metal. It's clean and green all the way. This is Mr. Pigskin, over and out."

When Switzer arrived at the Dornick Hills Country Club in Ardmore he was pulled into a group of OU boosters standing at the bar listening to a cherubic little man tell of his latest trip to Europe. "So the customs official looked at my passport," the man half-giggled, "and said, 'Oklahoma, huh. How many oil wells you got?' And I said, 'I don't know, I haven't been home in a week.' " As the group roared with laughter, 85-year-old Mort Wood, who played for OU, approached Switzer and said, "Barry, if you got three hours I'll tell you how it was in 1909, how 15 men played three games in six days. Both ways."

At the banquet Switzer rose to a standing ovation. He was to auction off a pair of OU jerseys worn by graduating seniors Leroy and Dewey Selmon. "I'll bid $250 and give $10,000 to have those boys back," he said, and then proceeded to sell the pair of jerseys for $1,800.

It was long after midnight when Switzer regrouped with several assistants at a brick tavern down the road from the country club. Lacewell, wearing a John Deere cap he had borrowed from one of the locals at the bar, was doing a monologue about how his tractor pulled to the left. As the hijinks wore on, David Bliss, the Oklahoma basketball coach, kept shaking his head. "Hey, Dave," Lacewell shouted, "tell 'em how you knew you were in a football conference when you were 9 and 17 and were named Big Eight Coach of the Year."

Bliss, a New Yorker and a Cornell graduate, looked about as out of place as a debutante at a hog sloppin'. Smiling and still shaking his head, he said more to himself than anyone, "It's amazing. How do these guys win a single game?"

Next day, accompanied by Pettibone, Switzer flew to New Orleans. The reason for his trip to the city was St. Augustine High's Louis Oubré, the state's top lineman. "He will dress out at about 6'6", 270 pounds by the time he plays for Oklahoma," Switzer said. "I understand the Louisiana governor called on Louis and said that it would be a crime if he went to college outside the state. And Louis said, 'Well, I guess I'm guilty.' Blacks know that Oklahoma was the first major college team in the South and Southwest to integrate and that we've had seven black captains. They appreciate that and so do we."

At the St. Augustine sports banquet that night Switzer delivered a rousing speech about "being a good student, a good person first and let football take care of itself." Then he went to a private, predominantly black social club with the St. Augustine coaches and talked football and joined in the Second Line, an old New Orleans jazz dance, ending with a tour of Bourbon Street in the wee hours.

The next evening, Switzer was back on the road, this time to Oklahoma City where he emceed an exhibition tennis match at the Myriad Convention Center. "You know what he's been doing all day?" said Kay. "He's been practicing how to say Bjorn Borg." At the cocktail party afterward, Switzer sidled up to John Newcombe, who was surrounded by twittering women seeking autographs, and said, "Hey, don't overdo it, fella. You're in my town now." And off Switzer went, sliding down the banister leading to the Myriad garage.

At breakfast the next morning Breathless Barry was still flying, eagerly penciling on a coffee-shop placemat the improvements that were being made with $5.3 million raised in a donor program that he helped formulate: new upper deck on the stadium, new press box, new coaches' offices, new training facilities, new dressing rooms, new football dormitory—all of them sketched in loving detail.

Later, in his office, Switzer talked about how he regretted the demands that keep him away from the two things he cherishes most, his family and the kind of coaching he enjoyed when he was an assistant. "My daughter really gives it to me," he said. "She keeps saying, 'All you ever do is change your clothes here, Daddy.' I feel bad about that but I've got to do it all now.

"There are compensations. You know, the byproduct of playing on a great football team is that you're a better person. You perform better. On the field, in school, everywhere. But when you lose, when you get half a hundred hung on you on a Saturday—boy, that ain't fun. You can't look your date in the eye. She doesn't kiss you as good. You wear your letter sweater inside out. I know. I been there. I been to drive-ins where you sat in your car and ate while everyone else went inside. But when you win—boy, that's fun. You blossom, you bloom. It makes all the difference."

Explaining how last season he barred Horace Ivory, the team's second-leading rusher, from playing in the Orange Bowl because he had an altercation with a coach, Switzer allowed, "Yes, you can have fun, but you've got to have discipline. We sit down with the players, socialize with them. But I'm still coach. I tell them, 'There ain't nothing you can do that I ain't done. And if you put me to a test, that is one test you're going to flunk.' "

At that moment, Center Mike Spencer strolled in and said, "Hey, Coach, I just wanted to let you know that I'm taking a mate this summer."

Switzer stared him in the eye. "You realize," he said, "that scholarship won't anywhere near cover your expenses?"

Spencer nodded and Switzer went on, "All you guys think about are those hot Saturday nights and you forget about those cold Monday mornings. Right?"

Spencer smiled. Switzer smiled, got up, shook his hand and said, "Congratulations."

After Spencer left, Switzer remarked, "He'll be a senior. He's got good smarts and he'll do just fine. But some of these young guys get married and later on down the line their wife's out working and they're hanging around the Union with all the pretty girls. It don't work. I've postponed a few of 'em from getting married."

Stretching back in his chair, Switzer said, "You know, I'd like to think that we help every one of the young men who come with us to build a foundation for the next 50 years of his life. Lots of guys say the reason they're going to college is to play football. But I tell 'em the silly game of football isn't that important. Really, when you're going to live 70 years, how important is football? What's important is to learn how to be a better person, to gain confidence and believe in being successful."

Later, while driving the visitor back to his motel, Switzer was asked if it was true that he had a temper. Twisting his face into an angry scowl, he hit the brakes, pounded on the dashboard and roared, "Who said I have a temper! Who said it? Tell me who and that sumbitch'll have a U-Haul trailer behind his car by sundown!"

Then Switzer laughed.

A few minutes later, Switzer spotted one of his players walking on the side of the highway and he pulled over. "Hey, Horace," he shouted. "Where ya going? The dorm? Okay, hop in. I'll drop you off."

Horace Ivory got in. Asked what that large silver implement stuck in his hair was, Ivory pulled it out and said, "My comb." "That's your Afro rake," Switzer countered. "And where else you gonna carry a big thing like that but in your hair. Right, Horace? You put that thing in your pocket and sit down on it and they'll have to give you a jillion tetanus shots."

Ivory laughed. Switzer laughed. The visitor laughed.

And Walt Disney couldn't have written a better ending to a fine clear Oklahoma morning.

PHOTORICH CLARKSONPHOTORICH CLARKSONThe Selmon brothers are gone but Switzer has faith in Oklahoma's ghosts.