It was 1981. Dallas was on fire with JR-mania. Real estate divas with red-lacquered nails battled Tom Landry’s Cowboys as celebrity gossip magnets.
In a richly-paneled den in Far Fashionable North Dallas, I posed a question to Chuck The Sooner Fan.
How did Chuck equate his OU diploma vs “the rascal son of an Arkansas bootlegger” being the public face of his alma mater?
Blondie, Kid and a marvelous toy known as the Internet were still a few years away. My Homeric Odyssey had brought me to The Metroplex at the apex of one of its roller coaster economic booms. Animated conversations amid the beautiful people in the trendy eateries along Turtle Creek centered on two subjects – Larry Hagman sightings ….. and Football.
“twas the latter subject that Chuck The Sooner Fan and I discussed one night over his bourbon & branch water and my Dr. Pepper. Chuck was a successful executive in the oil bidness selling drilling equipment for harvesting of Texas tea.
Chuck matriculated from a certain institution north of The Red River. That matriculation prompted my query.
“Chuck, your alma mater’s most celebrated personality is ‘the rascal son of an Arkansas bootlegger’ – Barry Switzer. Barry’s idea of the academic experience is Pre-game Tailgating – The Game – and Post-game Tailgating. His student-athletes can’t spell SAT if you spot them the S and the A. How do you resolve your University of Oklahoma diploma vs Barry and a roof-top full of AK-47 wielding thug-aletes?”
“BobLee” Chuck replied. “You’ve been in my office and my home. Have you ever seen my OU diploma? I couldn’t find that diploma if you offered me Darryl Royal’s head on a platter.
Like most young pups, I put my college diploma on my office wall my first year in business until my boss gave me some valuable advice. He said ‘Chuck your success is going to be measured by your ability to sell our products at a competitive price to a demanding clientele in a high-pressure business. That OU diploma might mean something to you. It doesn’t mean squat to your customers. Orangebloods, Aggies and Pokes buy drilling pipe too.’ I took it down and haven’t seen it since.
I spent four good years at Norman making friends and sowing wild oats. Now I make a good living. I have six OU FB season tickets for entertaining clients who enjoy big time football and appreciate my hospitality. Barry Switzer’s football program helps me makes money.
If Barry wins a national championship or gets caught buck-nekkid in a Mexican whorehouse, I still benefit. I get calls from my UT and A&M customers giving me grief and I end up sellin’em some pipe.
Sure, Barry recruits thugs and does lots of shady stuff you never know about. Other schools pull that same crap but can’t beat Barry. Yeah, we get caught now and then. The cost of “doing business” is our attitude – the rewards justify the risks. Because Barry Switzer wins BIG.
If you’re gonna run a fast & loose football program, you betta win. People who pretend to care about academic integrity are the same hypocrites who say they “buy Playboy for the articles”.
OU has a Chancellor or President. No clue who it is. Don’t care. Don’t know anyone who cares. I do know who OU’s linebacker coach is. ….. How ‘bout a refill on that Dr Pepper?”
That was the Fall of 1981. Six months later a skinny freshman named Michael hit a jumper to beat Georgetown. YIPPEEE, ….. O Joy! O Rapture!
The next morning I went to my office at The Fairmont Hotel …. all full of myself. No one said a word about Michael’s jumper. I had a memo from my boss about getting expense reports in on time. Chuck called. “Wasn’t that your school that won last night? Let’s grab lunch at Sonny Bryan’s? I’m buying IF you bring Jeannie.”
This convoluted tale has a moral to it. ….. Big Time College Football is “a hazardous undertaking”. Institutions choosing that perilous path best do so with a united alumni fan base mindful of the risks – alumni like Chuck The Sooner Fan.
The Amish avoid Las Vegas. An environment at cross purpose to their fundamental beliefs. ….. Think of the Butch Hiring Committee (Bob Winston and His Pals) as naive Amish elders who went looking for someone to build them a new fellowship hall …. Too naive and too hurried to ask the right questions, they hired a guy who only builds nudie bars. He (Butch) built them a fine nudie bar. Uh oh!
The stripper poles and the disco ball shoulda been early clues to what their naive haste had wrought. Now there’s a river of sin flowing down Franklin Street and lots of gnashing of teeth as storm clouds hover o’er Kenan’s lofty pines.
High stakes BCS Poker is not for the ethically hobbled. If an institution’s “reputation” is valued, it better not be wagered at the BCS table …. where a card laid is a card played.
Quote Chuck: …. “There are plenty who play fast and loose like OU does; but only a very few still standing in January. The rest are just cheating losers. BOOMER SOONER, BOOMER SOONER …. !!
A Hazardous Undertaking indeed.
…. in a fern bar in a North Dallas strip mall, Barry Switzer will tell anyone who will buy him a drink how great Marcus Dupree coulda been.
GUESS WHAT: There is an OU – UNC Coaching Connection – JIM TATUM was head coach at both. And Mack Brown was a Switzer Assistant. Small world , huh?