Switzer Moves On

Norman, OK - Twenty years after one of the most tumultuous days in Oklahoma football history, Barry Switzer says he hasn't forgotten what happened. He just doesn't dwell on it.

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On June 19, 1989, after the Sooners' program had been rocked by NCAA probation and the arrests of five players on felony charges, a teary-eyed Switzer said there was ``too much water under the bridge'' to continue as coach.
The resignation of the man who guided Oklahoma to three national championships caught many off guard and eventually resulted in the Sooners' decade-long exile from the ranks of the college football elite. The 71-year-old Switzer said years pass without him recalling the anniversary, but it does cross his mind from time to time.
``I don't count the years,'' Switzer told The Associated Press. ``I'm busy with my businesses and my life. I don't mark it on my calendar.
``Coaches pay a tremendous price for the actions and behavior of their athletes. We are held accountable for their actions. That's what the media and administration do. Is that fair? You judge it.''
Switzer joined the Oklahoma staff in 1966 and became head coach in 1973, compiling a 157-29-4 mark during the next 16 seasons and winning national titles in 1974, 1975 and 1985. In December 1988, the NCAA slapped Oklahoma with three years of probation for major recruiting violations committed by the football program.
Then came a string of player arrests. Cornerback Jerry Parks was jailed for nearly three months after pleading no contest to shooting teammate Zarak Peters after an argument. Two players wound up serving prison time after being charged with gang-raping a woman in the football dorm. And quarterback Charles Thompson was arrested after selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent, later appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated in an orange jail jumpsuit and serving 17 months in federal prison.
David Swank, then the university's interim president, publicly expressed confidence that Switzer could restore order to the program. Still, he told Texas newspaper executives a change would be made if Switzer didn't clean up the program.
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``It was tough to walk away from something you'd been a part of for 25 years,'' Switzer said. ``It was family. I thought about how it would affect other families. There were a lot of people involved.
``It was foremost in my mind to keep the staff intact. The administration wanted to clean house. If it hadn't have been for Donnie Duncan, that would have happened.''
The next day, Switzer's defensive coordinator, Gary Gibbs, was introduced as his replacement. He lasted six seasons as coach, going 44-23-2 before he was fired. Gibbs is now an assistant coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Howard Schnellenberger replaced Gibbs and went 5-5-1 in 1995 before resigning after one season. John Blake then took over and went 12-22 in three disastrous seasons before he was fired. Bob Stoops took over in 1999 and in 2000 guided the Sooners to the program's seventh national title.
``That was where the program always should have been,'' Switzer said. ``We were doing what should have been done. The '90s were a disaster. If I had lasted, it never would have happened.''
Switzer did return to coaching, taking over for Jimmy Johnson as the Dallas Cowboys' head man in 1994 and winning the Super Bowl after the 1995 season. Switzer left after the 1997 season. Johnson and Switzer joined Paul Brown as the only head coaches to win titles in both the NCAA and NFL. Switzer was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Switzer still lives in Norman and remains a popular figure in Oklahoma. He's dabbled in acting, appearing in television shows such as ``Arli$$,'' ``Coach'' and, most recently, ``Saving Grace.'' He also has been in movies including ``Any Given Sunday,'' ``Varsity Blues'' and ``Possums'' and recently filmed a series of commercials for Dunkin' Donuts.
``He's got his family there, his friends there,'' Duncan said. ``When you talk about records, what Barry achieved is a matter of record. ... He is a good man, and at the end of the day.

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Posted: 6/20/09 8:10PM ET

 

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