ENID, Okla. —
Where is the hate in today’s OU-Texas game?
Miss the comments of OU’s Brian Bosworth and Trent Smith, who would proclaim “Orange makes me puke.’’
Or the comments of a former Texas player who said a Texan playing for the Sooners was like an American fighting for Nazi Ger-many.
Hey, it never got better than in 1976 when OU coach Barry Switzer and Texas coach Darrell Royal were staring at each other in contempt while being alongside President Gerald Ford.
Royal had long called Switzer a “cheater’’ and demanded the OU staff take lie detector tests.
Switzer joked “some coaches rather listen to guitar picking than recruit’’ — no doubt a reference to Royal’s love of country music, especially Willie Nelson.
Royal, who led the Sooners to a pair of wins over Texas while an OU quarterback in 1948 and 1949, was never forgiven by the Sooner Nation. Royal’s feelings for Switzer were totally different than he had for Bud Wilkinson, who coached Royal at OU.
Former OU president George Cross, in his book “Presidents Can’t Punt,’’ recalled Royal was throwing up after his Longhorns beat the Sooners, 15-14 in 1958.
Cross wrote Royal told him “it didn’t seem right to beat Mr. Wilkinson.’’ Royal had been Wilkinson’s most successful protege taking the Longhorns to three national titles. He was 6-1 against his old coach.
One wonders what would have happened to the Sooners had Royal accepted the OU coaching reins when they were offered to him in 1966. The job went to Jim MacKenzie, who died of a heart attack after one season, but brought bring in two assistants who had a major impact on the program — Chuck Fairbanks and Barry Switzer.
MacKenzie’s legacy was that of a legend because the Sooners beat Texas, 18-9 in 1966, OU’s first win over the Longhorns since 1957. Goal posts were torn down and thousands greeted the team when they flew into Will Rogers World Airport.
That win cemented the new coaching staff’s foundation. It no doubt helped Cross’ decision to hire Fairbanks by executive decision when MacKenzie died that spring of a heart attack.
Royal had a roller coaster ride against his old school. He came back from the 1966 loss to beat OU four straight times. However, social progress would change the series and Royal’s perception.
OU, under Fairbanks, would aggressively recruit African- American athletes, especially out of Texas. Royal was slow in recruiting blacks. Royal went 0-5-1in his last six games against OU. The tie in 1976 only came because of an errant snap on an extra point try. UT was 5-5-1 that season and Royal was clearly drained. He retired from coaching.
Gary Gibbs knows the hazards of losing to Texas. In his six seasons at OU, he had a respectable 44-23-2 record, but was 1-5 against Texas. Thus, he’s seen as a “loser’’ by Sooner Nation.
He even had beer poured over him when the Sooners lost to the Longhorns, 17-10 in 2004 when James Allen was stopped just short of the end zone in the game’s final minute. Gibbs had the opposite of Sooner Magic against UT, thanks to Peter Gardere.
Gardere, in 1989, hit Johnny Walker with a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:33 left to give UT a 28-24 win. The next year, he hit Keith Cash for the winning touchdown in a 14-13 victory on a 4th-and-7 with two minutes left. R.D. Lashar, OU’s reliable field-goal kicker, missed from 46 yards out as time expired.
The next year OU lost, 10-7 with the winning touchdown coming on a fumble recovery. Reverse those four near-misses, and Gibbs still might be the coach at OU today. Gardere today still is known as “Peter the Great’’ because of his 4-0 record against OU.
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.