State of the Hogs: Barry Switzer
Barry Switzer paused when the question was asked, then sighed. What he was thinking about in a pause was how long this interview was going to take just to get through the first question.
"What am I doing now?" he said. "Everything, just everything. It's hard to remember it all."
Switzer played and coached at Arkansas after growing up in Crossett. He then coached Oklahoma to national championships and the Dallas Cowboys to the Super Bowl title in the NFL. He was in Fayetteville briefly Friday night to honor retiring athletic director Frank Broyles along with several hundred lettermen from his 19 years as UA head coach.
"I've got the gig with Fox Sports on Saturday," Switzer said. "I fly to Los Angeles in the morning for that. I've got some interests with (country singer) Toby Keith. I've got some interests in the Victoria (Texas) area in oil and gas.
"I've got about 1,000 lots in three developments with my son-in-law in north Oklahoma City and Edmond. Now that the oil and gas business is good again in Oklahoma, things are good there. And, among the other things I have is an imaging business where I'm partners with about 500 physicans and hospitals.
"We have storage units, the Barry Switzer Locker Rooms. A lot of different stuff. I've got businesses all over. I was in El Dorado last night. I've had some business interests in the Little Rock area, too."
There were more, he said. Some he said were blazing hot, others not so good.
"What you know about me is the same," he said. "I've been involved in some good things in business and I've done poorly with some others. It's about like my personal life through the years."
Switzer is always brutally honest and that last bit is right on target. He laughed when he finished the part about his mistakes in his personal life.
The second question in the interview was the last, but it took Switzer as long to get through it as it did to touch on just some of his business ventures. What about the pair of junior Arkansas tailbacks, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones?
No doubt his favorite subject is football. But, in a surprise to some, Switzer is almost as big a fan of track. He said when you are watching McFadden and Jones, you are in for a track meet.
Switzer is a self-proclaimed track junkie and sought out UA track coach John McDonnell on Friday night.
"You are one of my heroes," Switzer said as he welcomed McDonnell to a conversation that also included former Texas coach (and UA lettermen) Freddie Akers.
"People don't know it, but I'm a track junkie. I went to the Olympics at LA in '84. I saw Al Joyner walking through the airport and I called out his name. No one else there knew him. I know the track guys. I LOVE track. I'm a great fan of what you've done, Coach McDonnell."
Switzer said he loved to go to track meets as a UA grad assistant. He recalled driving vans for former UA track coach Ab Bidwell.
"They were going to the Drake Relays and had a couple of vans," Switzer said. "I volunteered to drive a van just so I could see the Drake Relays. I love track meets."
He recalled one track meet that broke out at an Arkansas game.
"We beat Hardin-Simmons at the end of Coach Broyles' first year, 60-15, when I was a junior," he said. "Jim Mooty ran back a kickoff 100 yards, really right up the gut. Then, Hardin-Simmons scored, and Billy Kyser did the same thing, 100 yards up the gut. I remember going over and sitting next to Mooty after his and he said, ‘Mine was better than Billy's. I made a couple of guys miss at the start. He didn't have to juke anyone. Mine was harder.'"
The conversation had to be coaxed back to McFadden and Jones. He thinks they are track men in football uniforms.
"Great, great athletes, great running backs," Switzer said. "I'm a fan of both McFadden and Jones. McFadden is just like (former Oklahoma star and current Minnesota Viking) Adrian Peterson, the fastest man on the field every time he's out there. They may be the two best playing the game right now.
"I see McFadden's ability and think it's similar to Adrian. The one common thing they have is that they are big and strong, carry their pads well and are going to outrun everyone. They are the fastest players in the game every time they step on the field.
"I don't know about quarterbacks and the needs of the (NFL) teams. That's always a factor in the draft, but I have no doubt that McFadden will be the first back picked. And, I love Jones. I'm a big fan of his, too. I think he'll be a first-round pick, too. Just a great, great player -- Jones, too.
"He's not a big back, but I've had some great little backs. I call them Pop Warner backs. He's like what we had so much at Oklahoma. He's like Joe Washington, except faster. I think what you see in Felix may be a better pure running back than McFadden. I don't mean any disrespect to McFadden, but Jones cuts better and he gets to the back side better and he makes people miss. He has great, great vision and just is a joy to watch. "What I see in McFadden is a back who is a north-south slasher who gets into the secondary and may make the last guy miss because of his great speed. He runs away from them. Jones is shiftier.
"I absolutely love watching both of them, a real treat."
Switzer talked about the aspect of coaching that he loved the most, and it was at the college level.
"I can tell you about the NFL," he said. "You came to work, 8 to 5, and you didn't know where the players went after you were done each day. Didn't matter. And, you didn't know their mommas or daddies. You'd never been in their living room.
"That's the difference. In college, you knew them and you could make a difference in their lives. That's what coaching is like in college.
"In the NFL, it's big businesss. A player can be there one day and on waivers the next, and back in his hometown in Georgia pumping gas for $8 an hour. We won the Super Bowl one year, the next there were 15 that had been on that team not back. You can't even remember their names. You don't forget them in college. In college coaching, you remember them and you can make a difference with them. You were in the living room with their mommas when you recruited them. You bring them in at 17 or 18 and they are in your family."
Switzer always made sure he had backs like Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in his family.
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