He gave everybody one last glimpse why in a 42-minute sendoff interview with a selected group of media members Tuesday afternoon.
Here’s even more of what he said.
On if there was a guy that he recruited that convinced him that he and the staff were on the right track:
Oh gosh, there were a lot of kids involved with that. A lot of kids that we take pride in, still to this day. Especially that first recruiting class, if you’re talking about that. But, you just look around at these walls and look at all the numbers that are up there, and what I mean by that is the dates. As coaches, we always talk to our players about putting your numbers up and certainly that first year – that recruiting class – and then winning the national championship in 2000 was pretty darn special. But there’s no way I could – shoot I would leave out too many guys. There were so many of them that were important and special. But certainly that first recruiting class was in particular really a special class and you all, as well as I do, know who all was involved in that class and what their record ended up being. Pretty special group of kids.
On Quentin Griffin:
We talk about that all the time. Quentin Griffin was a special, special player; special young man – still is. One of our favorites. We talk about him as coaches all the time about how special he was. It’s funny, and you all may or may not know the story behind that one. There was a player that had played for Texas A&M when I was coaching at the University of Texas and that player went on to become the head football coach at the high school that Quentin Griffin was at and he called me when I got the OU job and he said, ‘Man Coach, I’ve got a player down here that I think you all ought to take a look at.’ So I said, ‘OK’ and I take a trip to Houston and go by the school and he says, ‘You know, actually, I’ve got two really good running backs – one of them is already committed to A&M.’ He said, ‘But the other one is not committed to anybody yet.’ And that was Quentin Griffin. So I said, ‘OK I’ll take a look at him, why don’t you pull some tape up for me?’ And so he does, and it’s a real small video screen and the tape wasn’t real good but anyway, he puts it up there and I’m standing there looking at it and a kid rips up this long run and it was really impressive and I go, ‘Well is that that kid going to A&M?’ He said, ‘No. That’s Quentin Griffin.’ I said, ‘OK.’ So I watch a little more and the kid rips off another really impressive run and I go, ‘Well, is that the kid going to A&M?’ He said, ‘No, that’s Quentin Griffin.’ So I kept watching and gosh dog, all these great runs. And I said, ‘Is that Quentin Griffin?’ He said, ‘Yeah, that’s Quentin Griffin.’ I said, ‘Well, he’s better than the guy going to A&M!’ And he says, ‘Well, he’s available.’ So long story short, we end up getting Quentin Griffin, the other kid goes to A&M and in a year, he’s out. So yeah, that was special getting him. That was one of my greatest recruiting, too. I think I beat Sam Houston State on Quentin Griffin. He was very much overlooked because of this other kid he was sharing backfield time with. So, he wasn’t a highly-recruited guy coming out of high school but when we got in and watched tape I called Bob on the phone and I said, ‘Bob, this guy is really special.’ And Bob said, ‘Well, you think we ought to offer him?’ I said, ‘Yeah, no doubt.’ And Bob said, ‘Well, Bobby, if you think we ought to offer him, offer him.’ I said, ‘OK.’ So, of course we offered him and obviously what a great, great career he had. He was a lot of fun.
On any other stories that stand out on his recruiting trips:
Well, you’re right. I’ve been on all kinds of recruiting trips. I’ve had a lot of fun and met a lot of wonderful people. I’ve always enjoyed the recruiting aspect of it because of that. You get to meet so many people across the country and make relationships and build relationships and things of that nature. I’ve got all kinds of stories. But this is the family channel, so I probably shouldn't tell any others. I’ve got lots of great stories and again, 42 years of them. I’m not going to divulge many more here. I’m going to let you all read them in my book when it comes out. That way you guys will have to buy the book.
On recruiting Charles Tapper:
Yeah, Tapper, all of you probably know the story. But what a special, special kid he is. And special family. It was just one of those deals that here’s a guy, again, that was overlooked and he wasn’t a big football player to begin with. He was more of a basketball player and was a big AAU basketball player at the time coming out of high school. And he had a guy in the Baltimore area that was a football coach that just told him and said, ‘Hey, you’re probably not going to be a college basketball player.’ You know, he was 6'4, 6'5 at the most and those guys are 6'9 and 6'10 and so he convinced Tapper he should go the football route. He had only had one year of high school football when I looked at his tape, so I didn’t see a real good football player but I saw a very athletic guy running around and a big guy that had a lot of athleticism, had a big motor, had a lot of intensity about him – looked like he was having a lot of fun. He never took a lazy step. He just played hard all the time. He didn’t play particularly technique very good, but he did show great athleticism. So, from that standpoint, is why we got involved with him. And then of course, as all of you have seen through the years of him being here how much he has gotten better and better as a football player, and he’s got a chance to be a really good football player here before it’s all said and done.
On if the program is at a crossroads:
Not at all. There has been a lot of change going on here in the past 16 years, I just happened to be the latest one. During the 16 years that we have been here there has been changes. As you just mentioned, Cale (Gundy) and (Jerry Schmidt) the strength coach [are the only holdovers from Bob's first staff]. There has been a lot of other changes through the 16 years. For the most part it has all been good. Most guys that have left have moved on to bigger and better opportunities and jobs, so no I don’t feel that way at all. The program is in great shape. Change is good. It is like I always tell these young guys, you are playing at one of the premier places in the country at the University of Oklahoma. Don’t get to possessive about that desk that you sit behind because once you are gone they will have someone in the spot in about 12 hours. It doesn’t take long to fill a spot at a place like this. To that, change is good. There will be someone new in my desk tomorrow or whenever that happens, and it will be a good change. There will be someone coming in that is fired up and excited. Bob is going to hire a great guy, and they will do a great job. Things will continue to go forward, and I think we are in a great position when you talk about where the program is right now. Certainly we didn’t have the season that we wanted to have this past season. If you look at next year though with all of the guys that are coming back on defense and where we are with those guys. Recruiting is going well right now. They are going to have a great recruiting class. I think it is at a great spot.
On the players he leaves behind:
At my position I feel great about it. I think Zack Sanchez has a chance to be outstanding. He has had two great seasons back-to-back. He has the opportunity to be better with another year of improvement. I think Jordan Thomas is going to be a really special player before the end of his career. He showed great signs as a true freshman of what he is capable of doing. It is hard for a true freshman to show what he is capable of doing at that position as a true freshman, as you guys know. He had moments where you could see that in time that this guy is going to be good. He had his mess ups, but all freshmen do. I think those two guys coming back are special and the young guys we have too are good. And we have a great recruiting class.
On being on both sides of the Red River Rivalry:
It’s really a neat deal. It’s fabulous. To have gotten to be a part of that rivalry for 29 years, it’s special. It’s fun. People always talk about it and there’s no question it’s one of the greatest rivalries still in college football today. It’s neat from the standpoint of it being at a neutral site, the Cotton Bowl, Dallas, being there when the State Fair is going on. When you pull into the stadium or into the fairgrounds, there’s, what, 250 or 300,000 people there that are just there for the fair. And then you’ve got a packed house of 100,000 people at the game. So a great atmosphere with two great programs, a game that everybody’s interested in. It’s nationally televised every year because it is one of the great college football rivalries.
So it’s special. There’s a lot of things in my life and my career where I’m very, very blessed. I’m blessed to have gotten to be a part of that for 29 years. It’s a neat deal, there’s no doubt about it.