Catching up with The King

Former OU coach Barry Switzer talks about the upcoming NFL draft, OU's quarterback situation and much, much more. (AP Photos)

It is always great to catch up with The King. On Tuesday, former OU coaching great Barry Switzer was at an Alltel Wireless location working as a spokesman for the company. And while he was there, he decided to join Bob Barry Jr. and I for a few minutes on the Sports Animal to talk about a number of topics in pro and college football.

JH: Coach, how much is the information that we get in the media from NFL teams, and even the national networks, legit and correct in your opinion?

BS: "Well, we get a lot of information and I think it is a lot of guess work, but these guys who predict obviously have sources in the NFL. They are talking to head coaches and assistant coaches and scouts. They are not just coming off the wall throwing darts and stuff. It is pretty good information being collected. Sure, there is a lot of guess work in it because you don't know what is going to happen until the clock starts. Until that clock starts, a lot of things can change with just a couple of phone calls. That can throw your whole board out of whack if there is some change up or obviously if some change is made. Your order could fall differently because of that."

BBJ: When you went from the college to the pros was being a part of a war room on draft day with the Dallas Cowboys something that you enjoyed?

BS: "It is the same thing as National Signing Day. It is very similar. The key is your ability to evaluate talent at both levels, but obviously there is so much more attention given to the professional draft. It is all on television. Every one (pick) is on TV and you have cameras stuck in every draft room or war room or whatever you want to call it. That is happening around the country at every franchise, but on National Signing Day you guys cover every dang gum kid that signs around the country as coaches are out trying to get them signed, or at least they used to be. It has changed so much. It was a free-for-all back when I was coaching. There were no recruiting restrictions for most of my career and it was like a total free-for-all. It was like the Old West. It was a like a shoot-em-up all the time. Now, it is restricted and today have a calendar that they have to abide by all the time."

JH: What is your take on Adrian Peterson?

BS: "I think he will be a good back. He has all the measurements and he has everything that you want in a running back. He has great speed, but I don't think he is a make you miss back. I don't think he can make you miss like the (DeMarco) Murray kid that OU has right now. It is my opinion that there are very few guys like that. I was fortunate at Oklahoma that I recruited and coached a lot of guys who were drafted in the first round that were running backs. I have always looked at the innate running back ability that kids have, and that is what coaches really look for. It is a gift — talent and speed is. I think he will end up being an excellent football player. Just like a lot of big backs in the league, he is going to take a lot of punishment. A lot of those guys can run up there as everybody is big and strong and nobody runs over anybody. With his style running straight up, he is a target and people will try to tag him pretty good."

BBJ: When you recruited I am sure you felt you had the advantage because you were better recruiters than others. Is it the same way in the NFL that you have better player personnel or better evaluators or scouts with certain teams?

BS: "I think people find out the more people are sitting down there looking at film that nobody has an edge. We all see the same things. We see the technique, the footwork, the steps, the hands, and the leverage at every position. We see every technique on defense and you have a mental eye image of who the best players are at those positions. You judge them with your experience of who you have had, what you have coached and what you have seen. You spend 30 to 40 years in this league and nobody has it on anybody else. Coaches recognize talent and ability, especially after spending time at this game.

"It comes down to collecting the information and knowing what makes the kid tick and what is inside the kid. That is what is so much more important on draft day. Then it your belief in a young man that this guy is someone that will play for 10 to 12 years if he doesn't have injury, versus this kid that might wash out in three years but might make you better in the short-term. Those are the things that people really try to find out that you don't see on the tape."

JH: What was your take on OU's quarterbacks this spring?

BS: "From what little I saw, and I saw very little of it, I think those guys have a pretty good upside. I think their talents have a chance to go further than they are right now. They have a lot of room to improve to get there. I think they will, but none of them are ready right now. Heck, none of them have even taken a snap much less won a football game. How can people pick Oklahoma as a preseason No. 5 team in the country, by guys that I have always called fiction writers, how can those guys pick OU to be the No. 5 team in the country and they haven't even taken a snap yet? I don't know how you do that, but we will go as our quarterbacks play, I promise you. They have a pretty good supporting cast for them, but it will come down how the quarterbacks play."

BBJ: This will be Bob Stoops and his staffs' ninth season. He has had to interchange some parts, but for the most part the corp group has been there. Do you see similarities in his staff as far as the youthful exuberance in recruiting that was there with what you had when you were at Oklahoma?

BS: "Yeah, we had that early on. Obviously, we grew older and became more mature. But I don't think you lose that innate ability to recruit personnel and talent. You adjust to the kids every year because you are always dealing with 18 to 19 year old kids. You are getting a year older, but you are dealing with the same product every year. That is your attitude and most coaches maintain that, and maintain that throughout their careers. I look back on it and my groups of guys are as good as the group of guys they have today just because they worked at it and it is as simple as that."

JH: Joe Washington is coming back in an official capacity to work at OU. What are your thoughts as to the impact Joe can have at OU?

BS: "First of all, it has to be a former player like Joe. It had to be a high profile player in this position. You just don't do it with someone who doesn't have the respect and admiration of all the teams before and after Joe. He was one of the very best to ever play here and he carries himself well. Anyone who has ever met him or spent time with him knows there is so much quality there. He has the opportunity to get people to listen, and to rally ex-players to come back and be part of this experience again. We need that and we need to make the tradition live in not only football, but in all sports."

BBJ: What do your grandkids call you? Grumpy?

BS: "Yeah, they call me Grumpy. They can call my Grumpy and they can call me coach, but never call me Baaaaary! Call my Grumpy or call me coach, but never call me Baaaaary! They wear me out with that one."

BBJ: I ask that because in October you are going to hit a milestone as you will have been on this planet for seven decades. But you look still like you are 40. Do you feel good and is your health good?

BS: "I had an operation nine weeks ago today. Dr. (Brock) Schnebel did fusion on L-3, 4 and 5 and I have lost seven or eight pounds. I have been walking a mile or a little more every day. I have started back lifting weights so I feel pretty good. I have had a pretty good run. People say I have good genes and I am not talking about Levi's and Wranglers, I am talking about the stuff that my family gave me. I have been fortunate as I am healthy and I have been able to keep my weight the same for a long, long time."


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