Gaylord Memorial Stadium on the campus of Oklahoma University in Norman
Who are four players and coaches that define what Sooner football is all about today and its place in NCAA history? Here lies the Sooners football Mount Rushmore:
1. Bud Wilkinson- Elected in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969, Wilkinson might just go down as the greatest coach in Norman, compiling a record of 145-29-4 (81.5 winning percentage), including 114-10-3 (90.9 percent) in his first 11 years at OU. Wilkinson coached the Sooners from 1947-1963, leaving Norman with 14 conference titles and three national championships. During his tenure, he compiled win streaks of 31 and 47 games, the latter still standing as an NCAA record today. He is responsible for bringing the Sooners their first title, and winning his three in a six-year span.
2. Barry Switzer- I put Barry at my number two because, even though he won 14 more games than Bud and also had three titles, it took Switzer to win his in 11 years, and he only won 12 conference titles. But that doesn’t mean it was a hard choice to pick Barry. Switzer started as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator and in 1971 he perfected the wishbone as he helped the Sooners lead in points per game (45), total yards per game (563), and an NCAA record, 462 rushing yards per game. During the ’70s, Switzer’s teams combine to go 73-7-2. Some of the greats that played for him were Steve Davis, Brian Bosworth, Keith Jackson and Heisman-winner Billy Sims.
3. Adrian Peterson- There’s no way, as an avid #28 fan with multiple jerseys, am I leaving AP “All Day” off this list. During AP’s freshman season, he broke many NCAA freshman records, rushing for 1,925 yards, which included nine straight games with at least 100 yards rushing, also a freshman record (he set the record for 11 in a season). AP finished 2nd in Heisman voting to Matt Leinart that year. Due to injury, AP was limited in his sophomore and junior seasons. He broke his collar bone against Iowa State his junior year (his final season at OU) and missed the rest of the regular season. He returned against Boise State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl and rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown, ending his career with 4,045 yards (just 73 yards shy of Billy Sims’ school record).
4. Bob Stoops- It was difficult putting a third coach on this list, especially with some great players as Billy Sims, Steve Owens, Steve Davis and Landry Jones out there. But I believe Stoops’ legacy is still growing as an NCAA coach, and with nine wins next season, he’ll pass Switzer for most in Sooners’ history. Stoops brought OU back to glory after Switzer left in 1989 and the team having three coaches and a record of 61-50 with no conference titles up until Stoops’ arrival in 1999. Stoops led the team to its 7th national title in 2000, a 13-2 win against Florida State. In his 14 years in Norman, Stoops’ teams have gone to a bowl every year, won eight Big 12 championships and appearing in eight BCS bowls, including four title games.
Just missing the list:
Bennie Owen- Put OU on the map, going 122-54-16 in 22 years. Became first person from Oklahoma to be inducted into College Football Hall of Fame in 1951
Billy Sims- 1978 Heisman trophy winner, holds record for most rushing yards in OU career with 4,118
Steve Owens- 1969 Heisman trophy winner, scored 57 career touchdowns, a record that stood until 2010
Billy Vessels- Became the first Heisman winner from OU in 1952, playing under Bud Wilkinson
Landry Jones- All-time leader in school history with 16,646 passing yards and 123 touchdowns
Steve Davis- MVP of the 1976 Orange Bowl, OU’s 5th title, led the Sooners with a record of 32-1-1 as a starting quarterback
Demarco Murray- Tied AP’s freshman mark with 15 touchdowns, ended his career with OU-record 65 total touchdowns
Brian Bosworth- First team All-American linebacker in 1985 and 1986. Named to SI’s NCAA Football All-Century team
Roy Williams- In 2001, won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Jim Thorpe Award and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Had a school-record 12 tackles for loss by a defensive back in 2000