The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

April 2, 2013

OU mourns death of former coach Fairbanks

OKLAHOMA CITY — Chuck Fairbanks, who coached Heisman Trophy winner Steve Owens at Oklahoma and spent six seasons as coach of the New England Patriots, died Tuesday in Arizona after battling brain cancer. He was 79.

Oklahoma said in a news release that Fairbanks died in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale.

“He was a special coach, he was a special friend,” said Owens, one of five Heisman winners for Oklahoma after rushing for 1,523 yards and 23 touchdowns in 1969. “As a player, he made me better on the field. He was a tough coach, but he was a fair coach.”

Fairbanks was 52-15-1 in six years with the Sooners, including an Orange Bowl victory his first season and consecutive Sugar Bowls wins in 1971-72 before taking over the Patriots. He won 46 games for New England, a franchise record at the time.

The Patriots made the playoffs in their fourth season under Fairbanks in 1976 and two years later were on their way to their first outright AFC East title when owner Billy Sullivan angrily suspended him for the final regular-season game because he had agreed to go to Colorado. Fairbanks returned for the playoffs, but New England lost to Houston. He was 0-2 in the playoffs with New England.

Colorado hired Fairbanks away from the Patriots, but he was just 7-26 in three seasons, including an 82-42 loss at home to the Sooners and his replacement, Barry Switzer.

Fairbanks left the Buffs to become coach and general manager of the New Jersey Generals of the USFL. He was fired after one season.

The Sooners went 10-1 and beat Tennessee in the Orange Bowl in Fairbanks’ first year in 1967. He won 11 games each of last two seasons with OU, beating Auburn and Penn State in the Sugar Bowl.

Fairbanks agreed with the suggestion of Switzer, his offensive coordinator, to install the wishbone at OU after Texas used it to win a national championship in 1969. After becoming head coach, Switzer used the wishbone to win three national titles, matching the number Bud Wilkinson won from 1947 to 1963, a tenure that included a record 47-game winning streak.

“His squads won three Big Eight championships and helped lay the foundation for the program’s ongoing success with the installation of the wishbone-T offense,” current Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said in a statement. “I was fortunate to have many opportunities to get to know Chuck over the years.”

Fairbanks played for Michigan State’s 1952 national title team and was an assistant at Arizona State and Houston before joining the OU staff in 1966. Owens said he stayed in touch with Fairbanks because his former coach would often visit his daughter in Norman.

“Not just during football, but after football, we just loved him,” Owens said. “He was like a second father to me.”

Fairbanks worked in real estate and golf-course development after his coaching career. He occasionally worked as a consultant for NFL teams in training camp, including with the Dallas Cowboys when Bill Parcells was coach.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Bob Stoops Sooners, as usual, managing expectations

    High hopes are always attached to Oklahoma and this year is no different with the Sooners entering the 2014 season as a consensus pick to reach the first College Football Playoff.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mike Gundy Former OSU line coach having impact on Texas staff

    It was quite possibly the biggest coaching coup of the offseason and Oklahoma State was at the wrong end of it – former Cowboy offensive line coach Joe Wickline joining the staff for Charlie Strong's Texas Longhorns.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Charlie Strong Texas’ Strong prefers not talking national title

    Charlie Strong riled up plenty of Texas fans during a statewide spring tour by saying the Longhorns wouldn’t be in the national championship game.
    The new coach toned down his honest assessment in future stops, then said Tuesday in his first appearance at Big 12 media days that he prefers not even talking about championships.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • A new ACC? New ACC settles into era of stability

    Welcome to the new Atlantic Coast Conference.
    It’s where a founding member is out, a fast-rising program is in, Notre Dame is there, too — sort of — and nobody else is leaving.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Devonte Fields TCU’s Fields investigated for alleged assault

    TCU suspended defensive end Devonte Fields on Tuesday pending the results of a police investigation into whether he punched a former girlfriend in the head and threatened her with a gun while shouting, “I should blast you!”

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Minors lose in first round

    Wren Perry and Garrett Scudder combined for a two-hitter as the D-Bats Gallegos of Dallas run-ruled the Enid Minors 8-0 in six innings in the first round of the South Plains Regional Tuesday at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.

    July 22, 2014

  • Baseballpicture.jpg Majors open regional with Cherry Creek

    The Enid Majors (36-12) enter the Connie Mack South Plains Regional Tournament today at David Allen Memorial Ballpark coming off one of their best seasons in the past few years. Now, the pressure is on as they face Cherry Creek, Colo.,at 8:15 tonight.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Enid Event Center_28_BV.jpg Ballpark to observe Military Appreciation Night

    David Allen Memorial Ballpark hosts Military Appreciation Night tonight during the 6 and 8:15 games of the Connie Mack South Plains Regional Tournament.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rory McIlroy: There's a new tiger in town

    His father introduced him to the game when he was small, putting a golf club in his hand when he was barely past the toddler stage.
    He fell in love with it and worked hard, improving steadily. He became a terrific junior player and quickly improved.
    He was touted as the next big thing and didn’t disappoint.
    Now, at the tender age of 25, he is a multiple major champion.
    Tiger Woods? Yes, once upon a tee time. But now those words are being spoken about Rory McIlroy.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days.jpg Gundy has big plans for Hill

    The picture became a little clearer Monday of how Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year Tyreek Hill will be utilized in the Oklahoma State offense.
    And the picture is rather wide.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos


Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at http://enidnews.smugmug.com.