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20 Years Later, Barry Switzer Doesn't Recognize He Was Oklahoma's Problem

Jun 18, 2009 – 4:04 PM
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Terrance Harris

Terrance Harris %BloggerTitle%

Barry Switzer at Oklahoma, 1988Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer says he's moved on. He doesn't dwell on his decision that stunned Sooner nation and crippled the football program 20 years ago Thursday when he suddenly resigned.

OU was in a heap of trouble back then, with five players being arrested on various felony charges and the program had been slapped with three years of NCAA probation for recruiting violations. Who could forget a tearful Switzer admitting on June 19, 1989, that too much had transpired for him to continue on as the Sooners coach?

For the next 10 years, OU lost its dominant identity, appearing as a shell of the program that had won three national titles in 16 seasons under Switzer. The veteran coach would go on to win a Super Bowl as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but it wasn't long before his outlaw reputation caught up with him in Dallas, making it impossible to continue on. The Sooners, meanwhile, were stuck in mediocrity.

Switzer, 71, has remained visible and has even been embraced in Norman in recent years. He has several successful businesses. But what's sad is Switzer still doesn't get it. He seems to still blame the actions of his players, which included accusations of a rape, a shooting and quarterback Charles Thompson selling cocaine to an undercover FBI agent, for his decision to step down.

Switzer doesn't seem to take responsibility for his part in the problems at OU and the culture that engulfed the program. It was recruiting violations that landed OU on probation.

"Coaches pay a tremendous price for the actions and behavior of their athletes," Switzer said to the Associated Press. "We are held accountable for their actions. That's what the media and administration do. Is it fair? You judge it."

The long and short answer is yes. Switzer knew he needed a certain kind of athlete to contend for and win those coveted national title and that's what he set out to attract.

Switzer was larger than life and seemed above the law when he was at the helm. It seems only natural that some of his players would pick up on that.

The program struggled through a decade of losing under three coaches as direct result of the mess Switzer left behind. It wasn't until athletic director Joe Castiglione and football coach Bob Stoops came along that the OU program moved far enough away from Switzer and reclaimed its rightful place as one of the powerhouse programs in college football.
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