NORMAN, Okla. — Former OU Head Coach Barry Switzer's place in the history of college football is set, and in this reporters mind he is the greatest to ever coach in college football. Switzer proved his versatility when he came out of retirement and coached the Dallas Cowboys to a Super Bowl Championship as well. That's three collegiate national championships and one Super Bowl Championship on his resume.
Coach Switzer was recently honored by the Jim Thorpe Association with the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to only seven other sports figures. Earlier this week, Coach Switzer agreed to sit down and talk to OUINSIDER.COM for the Two Minute Drill.
JH: Coach Switzer, you deserve every single award that you can get. Congratulations on the latest!
BS: "Well, thank you James. The Life Time Achievement award is a special award, especially considering I am only the seventh recipient of the award. I am tickled to death to be the recipient, because I was a part of that ceremony three years ago when Tom Osborne got the award. He is the sixth and I am the seventh. I had a great time watching many of the high school honorees, talking to old friends and watching Derrick Strait earn his honor, which was richly deserved. A lot of people were recognized, and one of the reasons they were all recognized was because of the efforts of other people, especially me, who I coached, coached with and people that I was surrounded with. It is not just one person doing a job in a team sport, it is a bunch of people working together and accomplishing goals together. I have always been a team guy and I think this award is reflective on everyone that has been a part of my life and my profession."
JH: I bet you had a great time seeing many of your former coaches and players?
BS: "Sure, I had a great time talking to some of my friends, both old and young, and some of the coaches I had worked with and some of the players that I have coached. One thing about an honor like this James is that is confirms for me that I am in the fourth quarter. I have always planned to play overtime and it is not at the end of the two minute warning yet. For me to be recognized for an honor like this, you have had to lived life, and I have lived it and enjoyed it. This will always be something that will mean a great deal to me."
JH: I always felt the biggest joy you had in coaching was working with your coaches and actually dealing personally with your players, is that correct?
BS: "There is no question about it. We have had a lot of victories and championships through the years, but my reward was always the relationships. Especially the relationships we had with the people involved in the game and especially the players throughout the years. That coach/player relationship develops into a lifetime relationship with the player, as they grow from young men into men and start living their life. It is something that I have always said — that once you recruit them as a player he is yours for life. I think that is the great thing about the coaching profession."
JH: You were one of the best recruiting head coaches of all time in college football, and I find it amazing that many of the same principles that you recruited on are still used today. Didn't you always say that you had to recruit the momma's, grandmothers and girlfriends first before you worked on the dad and the player?
BS: "You are exactly right, and the women are more important than daddy in the recruiting process. I have always said that the momma packs the suitcase and anyone that tells you mom and dad aren't involved in that decision, then that is the second, third or fourth biggest lie in the world."
JH: When you were coaching you had the greatest juggernaut going in college football. You would have to admit that you had tremendous success while you were coaching at OU?
BS: "During those 16 years we were the winningest program in the country. I am glad I didn't have to compete against Tom Osborne in the 90's. We were able to be successful in the 70's and 80's and that is why we had the winningest program in college football during that time. We got our victories against Nebraska that separated us and then once we were out Tom had his major success in the 90's. My coaches were tremendous during our era and we were the best program in the country."
JH: Many of your coaches on your staff went on to be head coaches in their own right. That has to be something that you are proud of?
BS: "You are always happy for those that are around you that are recognized for their talents and abilities and move forward. They all want that opportunity to run their own program and I was glad that many of them had their own opportunity."
JH: "You ran the wishbone better than anybody else, so how sentimental is that formation still to you?
BS: "You could still win with it today. There is no question about it. The principles of the triple of option could win for you today and the play itself could win for you today. I think the defenses are so good today and the athletes are so specialized on defense that you would have to do other things to make it work. Tom Osborne did a two-back triple option during the 90's and dominated college football with that offense. With the talent and ability recruited to fit that offense you could still dominate college football doing what Tom did in college football in the 90's. It was basically what we did out of a three-back offense."
JH: What do you think of the new era of college football where Oklahoma is throwing the ball as well as anybody in the country and Nebraska is switching to a passing offense next year?
BS: "That kind of offense is home today. Everybody is in one-back sets and you are starting three wide receivers or four wide receivers, and there are very few offenses that have a tight end or two tight ends in the formation anymore. It is basically a wide open offense and it is very similar to what the pros are doing. It is a different game and it has changed, but the same things win for you. Blocking and tackling are still the keys to the game. It is blocking and tackling, running and throwing with good athletes on the field orchestrating good game plans and being coached. The variable of coaching is always important and it will always be. Steve Kragthorpe proved it at Tulsa this year and showed you how important coaching is. It was demonstrated with what he did in one year in that program compared to what happened for several years before his arrival."
JH: Bob Stoops just recruited the No. 1 running back in the country in Adrian Peterson. I think you did that on five different occasions didn't you? When you get that kind of talent into your program it sure brings a lot of excitement to your program doesn't it?
BS: "It certainly does, and it brings a lot of talent to that class. There is only one player that probably has much pedigree as Peterson and that was Marcus Dupree. I have always said that newspapers have never made a player, but they have ruined a lot of them. All of them have to prove themselves once they are here. All this hype about how good they are, ranked No. 1 by this media service or another, doesn't prove to me a thing. It is when he is on campus, and he has a chance to prove himself in competition, is when you find out how good he will really be. Marcus was the one player that has as much publicity as this young man that Bob has recruited. I think Marcus was the most talented freshman athlete to ever arrive on campus. He was talented as any 18-year old who every arrived at Oklahoma. Billy Sims was as talented, but he wasn't as physically ready to play. David Overstreet, Elvis Peacock and many others were all first round draft choices and all highly recruited, but this young man has probably got more pedigree than any of my running back outside of Marcus Dupree."
Catching up with Barry Switzer
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