Though Barry Switzer s career may have not always been glamorous, it was always successful. Switzer grew up in Arkansas, but will always be connected with Oklahoma. He is one of the best coaches to ever coach college football, and reached a hundred wins faster than any other coach. Barry had a different style of coaching on and off the field. He has a College National Championship and a Super Bowl ring, which can t be said by many coaches. Due to his great success, he is still hailed by Sooner fans. Most people can t appreciate his success until they know what he has gone through to get it.
Barry Switzer was born on October 5, 1937. He was born in Crossett, a small town in southern Arkansas. His first house was a houseboat on the Ouachita River. His dad worked at the toll bridge over the river. In 1941 he and his family moved to Long Beach, California. They moved there so his dad could work on ships during the war. When the war ended he moved back to Crossett, Barry just finished the third grade. His dad went through many jobs but didn t gain any money. Then he decided to go to Louisiana and buy a few cases of whiskey. He brought the cases back to the dry county of Crossett and made a good profit. After this he became a bootlegger. Barry grew up as a poor kid and didn t have electricity or running water until his senior in college. He attended the University of Arkansas to play football. He was more homesick than he thought he would, but quickly adjusted. He played for four years and often said he was never good enough player to play for one of his teams at Oklahoma.
At the beginning of his senior year, he met his future wife. He was talking to one of his teammates when she walked and asked them for directions. They started dating after that. After playing for the University of Arkansas, he enlisted in the reserves. He was supposed to have six months of basic training in Missouri. After a few weeks of training, Coach Broyles, the head coach at Arkansas, called and offered him a job. He became a full-time assistant coach in 1961. In 1963, after his wife received her degree, they got married. Two years later helped coach the Razorbacks to their only National Championship in 1965. After this year, Switzer started thinking about coaching a team himself. A year later Arkansas Assistant coach, Jim MacKenzie, was offered the job of Head Coach at the University of Oklahoma. In 1966 MacKenzie accepted the job and brought Barry Switzer with him. Not knowing at the time that Switzer would spend the next 23 years in Norman.
Barry s first year as assistant coach was somewhat successful. They beat the University of Texas for the first time in ten years and also knocked off Nebraska. They finished the season with a 6-4 record. That Spring MacKenzie died of a massive coronary. Chuck Fairbanks took over as head coach. Barry was moved to offense of coordinator. He is responsible for Oklahoma starting to run the wishbone. This is when Oklahoma starting breaking records. There were only three teams in the nation running the wishbone, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas; and they were unstoppable. For the next few years Barry led Oklahoma s offense and they were nationally ranked in the top five. The new wishbone that Switzer was perfecting was completely taking control of him. It was all he could think. In 1972 he was awaken from this trance by the news that his father had been murdered. He knew this day would come, he just always hoped it wouldn t.
His father had a girlfriend and a mistress. His girlfriend found out about the mistress and shot him in anger. Not meaning to harm him, she quickly put him in the car and drove him to the hospital. On the way there, she lost control and hit a telephone pole. The car exploded on impact and killed them both.
At the end of the 1972 season, Chuck Fairbanks got offered a job from the New England Patriots. So on January 29, 1973 the University of Oklahoma named Barry Switzer head coach of the football team. That next season, the Sooners went undefeated behind the running of Joe Washington. This was Barry s first National Championship as an Oklahoma Football coach. Though he didn t know at the time, it wouldn t be his last. He even commented on how he thought every team on the schedule the next year would be difficult to beat. The fans on the other hand thought that the Sooners had another championship in the bag. They were right, Oklahoma won its second National Championship in a row. They had one loss that year, but had won twenty-eight consecutive games before that.
Barry Switzer was winning so many games that the fans started saying that he had Sooner Magic . Most of the fans were referring to his success against Nebraska. Tom Osborne, Nebraska head coach, and Switzer both became coaches the same year. Switzer had the better record between the two. Many of the games were close and many of the fans called the close victories Sooner Magic . Up to the 1987 season, Oklahoma had won twenty-eight straight Big Eight Conference games and twenty straight regular victories. They had good players, but the fans also liked to say that Sooner Magic had something to do with it.
In 1982 Barry had his worst season at Oklahoma. The Sooners ended the season with a 7-4-1 record. After a few more seasons that ended up with Oklahoma not going undefeated, people started talking about firing Switzer. In 1985, however, the Sooners turned it around. Led by Jamelle Holieway at quarterback and Brian Bosworth at linebacker, Oklahoma beat Penn State to be the National Champions. This is the last Championship that Switzer won and also the University of Oklahoma.
After having three consecutive 11-1 seasons, Switzer knew his team was bound to unwind. And it did on February 2, 1989. The NCAA hit the University of Oklahoma with sixteen different charges. These charges range from faking transcripts to illegally recruiting players. In 1989, there were a few legal problems that involved some of the players. A gun had been shot in the athletic dorms. And the star quarterback had been arrested for possession and dealing of cocaine. This and the other allegations by the NCAA led Barry Switzer to retire.
Barry Switzer was the winningest coach at the University of Oklahoma and one of the winningest coaches in college football. He won three National Championships and won over twenty bowl games. Coach Switzer compiled a 157-29-4 record with the Sooners and his .837 winning percentage remains fourth-best in college football history. They captured or shared the Big Eight title 12 times under Switzer from
1973-88. His teams set NCAA records for rushing and often led the nation in offense and defense. Barry coached college football like no one had done before. There will probably never be another person to coach the game like he did, and there definitely won t be anyone as successful.
Cowboys. He began his career with no pro coaching
experience, although he was one of college football’s most
successful coaches during his tenure at the University of
Oklahoma. Coach Switzer compiled a 40-24 record in four seasons with the Cowboys. Switzer guided the Cowboys to NFC East titles in each of his first three seasons and won Super Bowl XXX following the 1995 campaign. Switzer decided to step down as Cowboys coach after a 6-10 season that ended with five straight losses. It was the first losing record for the Cowboys since they finished 7-9 in 1990 under Jimmy Johnson.
Barry Switzer will always be rembered at the University of Oklahoma, and the fans will always love him. To honor him, they built a football center in his name. In 1999, the Barry Switzer Center, a $5.57 million building which houses a new weight room, a training room, coaches offices and a legends hall to honor former OU athletes in all sports was dedicated on the University of Oklahoma campus in his honor. The building, is adjacent to the south end zone building of Memorial Stadium. It’s use is intended for all OU athletes, not just football players. The warm feelings for Switzer were evident during the ceremony. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced and again when he finished his remarks. He drew a roar when he said one reason it was nice to be on hand for the ceremony was because it’s always great to come home, north of the Red River, where I’m appreciated.