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The situation improved this past spring when the Sooner coaches introduced a Wishbone with wings that puts the two receivers on opposite flanks. "We threw so much it was ridiculous," Tinker says happily. "I think we should pass more. Defenses are learning a lot about the Wishbone, and passing will make the running game even better."
Owens admits he "might like to stand out a little more," but he hastens to add, "I haven't let it bother me. I'd rather be right where I am than take a chance of having something bad happen somewhere else."
Oklahoma was the natural choice for Steve Owens' little brother. A natural choice, but not necessarily an automatic one. When Tinker was named Oklahoma's outstanding high school athlete his senior year, comparisons to Steve were numerous.
"Fortunately, it doesn't happen as much anymore," Tinker says. "After all, I'm a receiver and he's a running back. I'm small and he's big."
But the comparisons were so oppressive at the time that Tinker seriously considered enrolling at pass-minded Arkansas. "I knew I'd have a better chance of making a name for myself there," he says, "but Arkansas turned out to be a bad scene. When I visited there a big guy, about 6'5", 250 pounds, tried to pick a fight with me. He kept saying, 'I don't care if you are Steve Owens' brother.' Heck, he was the only person who had even mentioned Steve. But it's a good thing he didn't hit me because there was another fellow behind him with a bottle, ready to bust him over the head."
Since his arrival from Miami, in the northeast corner of the state, Tinker has been no ordinary Okie, however. His hot flashes of success quickly won him a following. A baby was named after him. A heifer was named after him. A laundromat that didn't even exist was named after him. The sign outside Miami that once read HOME OF STEVE OWENS now includes an addendum: AND TINKER, TOO.
And, finally, he has received the ultimate tribute. When a Norman traffic cop began writing out a speeding ticket for one Charles Wayne Owens last year, the perpetrator, hanging loose, casually mentioned that he was better known as "Tinker."