Having escorted his players to a shoot-'em-up movie and then packed them off to bed, each with an apple, Oklahoma's Barry Switzer sat in a Fort Worth lounge last Friday night commiserating with himself over his fate, which is to have a team that merely wins every game it plays instead of burying foes under an avalanche of touchdowns. The Sooners performed satisfactorily in stomping Oregon 62-7 and Pittsburgh 46-10, but it was a shame how they humiliated their fans in squeaking by Miami ( Fla.) 20-17 and Colorado 21-20.
An elderly man approached Switzer's table. "I've been following OU football for 53 years," he said, grasping Switzer's hand in consoling fashion. "Don't let the criticism get to you."
"It's nice of you to say that, sir," said the coach, bravely keeping his chin up. Of Course, the fact that he had never been beaten in his 26-game head-coaching career helped bolster his sagging morale.
Oh my, yes, Oklahoma fans are hard to please. If da Vinci were their head artist, they would demand that the Mono Lisa's smile be changed to a toothy grin. If God were a Sooner, they would demand a five-day Creation. Take the previous Saturday, a home game against Colorado. Ahead by one point in the closing seconds, Oklahoma Quarterback Steve Davis, a licensed Baptist minister who flies an airplane to various towns to deliver his sermons, fell on the ball several times in a row to kill the clock. The home folks booed the Rev. Steve Davis.
Afterward, Assistant Coach Larry Lacewell met an annoyed woman fan who wanted to know why Davis had not tried to pass to get another touchdown.
"Madam," said Lacewell with a straight face, "we were trying to hold down the score."
Last Saturday Oklahoma once again managed to hold down the score. It was the annual Texas-Oklahoma game before the annual capacity crowd of 72,032 in Dallas' Cotton Bowl. Undefeated, fifth-ranked Texas went into the game leading the nation in rushing, total offense and scoring, but Oklahoma's defense, featuring End Jimbo Elrod and Tackle Leroy Selmon, held the Longhorns to 212 yards rushing, 183 below their average. And after a fumble-filled four quarters in more than 100� heat, Oklahoma was the survivor 24-17, the fifth year in a row it has defeated hated Texas.
The victory left Oklahoma unbeaten in 34 straight games, unbeaten and untied in 25 straight. Switzer's head-coaching record is now 26-0-1. Still, the combined scores of the last three games add up to Oklahoma 65, opponents 54, a margin totally unacceptable to Sooner fans. Clearly, Switzer must humbly apologize and quickly shape up or he will find himself the first undefeated coach in history to be hung in effigy.
Texas vs. Oklahoma has been a highlight of the State Fair in Dallas since 1929 (preceding Fletcher's corny dogs, the incredible woman without a middle and the Rock 'n' Roll Caterpillar ride), and it is one of college football's great rivalries, making the Cotton Bowl as important a part of the carnival as the roller coaster and the ring-toss games, the Belgian waffles and the freak show. As if it needed it, the big game this year got some additional spice from the Great Lie-Detecting and Guitar-Picking Debate.
Texas Coach Darrell Royal has implied that Oklahoma has used illegal or at least unethical tactics in luring promising Texas high school lads north of the Red River. Royal and others in the Southwest Conference helped push through an NCAA rule limiting the number of visits to a prospect's home. Oklahoma and its Big Eight friends opposed this regulation. Then, last April Switzer had his entire staff take lie-detector tests, which he said proved there had been no sinning. Royal's staff followed suit.