Legendary OU football coach Barry Switzer talks about beating Texas, Spencer Rattler
By Jay C. Upchurch
In each new edition of Sooner Spectator, we ask coaching legend Barry Switzer to share his thoughts on a variety of topics, ranging from football to food to his favorite anecdotes. In the latest installment of King’s Corner, Coach talks about the joy of beating archrival Texas, the play of Spencer Rattler and the Switzer Golf Classic.
Sooner Spectator: Does beating Texas ever get old?
Barry Switzer: (Laughing) Hell no. That’s the No. 1 priority as an OU football coach. Always has been. And always will be. It’s even more important these days because the Big 12 Conference championship is almost always on the line. You have to win that game to put yourself in a position to win the conference championship. And it’s such a great game for the fans and for college football. You have to remember that there are thousands and thousands of Oklahoma alumni and fans on both sides of the Red River, and it means just as much to all of the people who either played at OU or attended OU and returned to live in Texas than it does to anyone. When I was coaching, Nebraska was that game we had to win every season if we wanted to be Big Eight champions — but Texas was a big, big game for us back then, too. Beating them helped set you up for the rest of your season.
SS: Oklahoma beat third-ranked Texas 48-27 in the 1971 meeting, after your offense had perfected the Wishbone offense over the previous year. What do you remember most about that game?
Switzer: Well, Texas had been running the Wishbone for a few seasons and had a lot of success with it, which is one of the reasons we decided to make the switch. When we decided to put in the Wishbone the week before we played Texas in 1970, it was the beginning of something special. I only wish that Chuck (Fairbanks) would have listened to me that spring and put it in earlier so we could have been more prepared for that 1970 Texas game (a 41-9 loss). The next year in 1971, they may have been ranked higher and expected to win the game, but we were the better team — just better athletes, more speed and a great defense. Jack Mildren had a great game that day along with Greg Pruitt, who ran all over Texas. Like (Texas coach) Darrell Royal said afterward, ‘It looked like their backs were running downhill.’
SS: What has been your impression of current OU starting quarterback Spencer Rattler to this point?
Switzer: It’s pretty obvious he’s a talented player with a chance to be a great player for us. He’s young and he�s going to make a few mistakes here and there, but overall, I think he’s played well. He came back in and played well in the second half against Texas, and that’s a great sign. Like with most good quarterbacks, he’s going to continue to learn from his experiences and use them to his advantage. It’s going to be fun to watch.
SS: Sooners Helping Sooners recently hosted the sixth annual Barry Switzer Golf Classic, which benefits OU student-athletes who may need assistance after college. It’s a day when a lot of your former players and coaches return to be a part of the cause. Does it feel like a family reunion?
Switzer: It really does. It’s a neat deal. I love seeing all of those guys coming back to be a part of something so special. I don’t really play golf but I get to ride around the course and see everyone. Then at the lunch afterward, you can look around the room and see so many great guys and lots of success stories. On one side of the room is John Randolph, who played here in the 70s. He’s a thoracic surgeon. And he’s talking to Karl Baldischwiler who was a 10-year starter on the offensive line for the Detroit Lions. He’s now an engineer in Oklahoma City. Obie Moore is an international lawyer based out of Washington DC. Just a lot of great guys in all walks of life who come back to help a great cause.
(Editor’s Note: This story appears in Sooner Spectator’s OU-Texas Review Issue – Oct/Nov. 2020 … to read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)