Sooners mourn loss of Chuck Fairbanks

NORMAN, Okla. — The gloomy weather outside just about sums up what kind of day it's been for Sooner Nation.

The gloomy weather outside just about sums up what kind of day it's been for Sooner Nation.

A day after legendary coach Jack Pardee passed away, OU legendary coach Chuck Fairbanks has lost his battle with brain cancer and passed at age 79.

"The University of Oklahoma fondly remembers Chuck Fairbanks," said OU vice president for intercollegiate athletics and director of athletics, Joe Castiglione. "Chuck provided stability and leadership for the program during a pivotal time in OU history and his lasting contributions to Oklahoma Football will always be appreciated."

Fairbanks, who compiled a 52-15-1 overall record and won three Big Eight Championships, was best known for his installment of the wishbone offense at OU that the program would ultimately use for the next couple decades.

He coached running back Steve Owens for his three years, including when the star ravaged through defenses for 1,523 yards and 23 touchdowns en route to winning the 1969 Heisman Trophy.

"The Oklahoma Football family is saddened by the passing of Chuck Fairbanks, who holds a memorable place in Sooners' history," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "His squads won three Big 8 championships and helped lay the foundation for the program's ongoing success with the installation of the wishbone-T offense. Chuck possessed an exceptional eye for talent, recruiting talented players like Heisman winner Steve Owens and enabling innovative assistant coaches like Barry Switzer to thrive.

"I was fortunate to have many opportunities to get to know Chuck over the years. He often visited his daughter in Norman around Thanksgiving, and I enjoyed our conversations when he attended practice. We offer our prayers and condolences to Chuck's family and the many individuals he touched during his time at the University of Oklahoma."

Fairbanks claimed a 3-1-1 bowl game record with a pair of Sugar Bowl victories as well an Orange Bowl triumph.

He produced 24 all-league players and nine All-Americans.

Following his fifth season at OU, Fairbanks accepted the New England Patriots head coaching position, where he compiled a club-record 46 wins and won the AFC East twice.

From there, he returned to college football with the Colorado Buffaloes for a three-year stint.

Fairbanks began his career at Ishpeming (Mich.) HS, then worked as an assistant at Arizona State, Houston and OU before becoming the Sooner head man.

He played collegiate ball at Michigan State and won a National Championship in 1952.

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