Furthermore, Widseth and Wilkinson had been elected co-captains for 1936, which was something Bud really deserved. But he gave that up, too. He learned that one of the other players was being dropped from the squad because of study troubles. Bud thought it all out, decided what was most important to him and quietly went to Coach Bierman?to suggest that the other boy be named co-captain with Widseth. He hoped it would be an exceptional incentive for the troubled player to settle down scholastically and hang on with the squad. That's just what happened. The other boy took Bud's place of honor and wound up as a great backfield star. Bud never talked about what he did.
A PENT-UP FIRE
Wilkinson the coach, 18 years later, is like Wilkinson the player, except the fire he had as a Tiger chokes off somewhere around his collar button now and slips out quietly. He never shouts at his players. He never berates anybody for a dumb play. But the fire gets all pent up in his insides. I know there are nights when he slips off by himself to the gymnasium to work out as hard as he possibly can, to exhaust himself so he can sleep.
In football, Bud is a positive thinker all the time. He never puts undue pressure on his players by telling them they're great. But he never lets them think they aren't better than the other guy. His main interest at the university is education, though, and he can't stand the idea of a boy coming to Oklahoma just to play football. His teams haven't lost a conference game since he took over as head coach in 1947 and his teams have won 10 for every one they've lost against all comers, which makes the alumni simply delighted. He has a contract running through 1962 on account of that. But Bud is doing things in his own way?insisting that his athletes maintain good marks and seeing that over 90 percent of them are graduated into fields primarily non-athletic. No other coach before him had that kind of success at Oklahoma. The alumni are happy with his educational ideas, too. He is a winning coach.
And I'm very happy I used to run through right tackle all the time. It would have been a shame if Bud Wilkinson had wound up as just another businessman.