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PURSUIT OF A BIG BLUE CHIPPER
Dan Jenkins
September 09, 1968
The American drama of football recruiting, as observed in the case of Abilene's No. 14, is a phenomenon both somewhat ridiculous and somewhat sublime
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September 09, 1968

Pursuit Of A Big Blue Chipper

The American drama of football recruiting, as observed in the case of Abilene's No. 14, is a phenomenon both somewhat ridiculous and somewhat sublime

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A few days later it appeared that Dallas had won the battle and that Jack had made up his mind. When SMU Coach Hayden Fry phoned him Jack said, "The way things stand right now, it looks like I'll be coming to SMU."

Fry was jubilant. He said he would like to stage a massive press reception. He wanted copies of Jack's glowing statistics. He wanted to make the announcement for Sunday's papers. Then more wires began to arrive. Sign now, they said, and they came from just plain folks like Murchisons, Hunts and Merediths.

To his father, Jack paused and said, "I didn't think I was that definite. Did I mislead 'em? I'm still sort of thinking about some other schools."

And Jack did not sign.

It was at this point that Oklahoma and Arkansas, a new entry, made their big moves. Frank Broyles breezed into Abilene with his evangelistic style. No one sells anything the way Broyles sells Arkansas. He talked about his pro-type offense. He said he had hired the best quarterback coach in the country, Don Breaux from Florida State, the man who had taught Kim Hammond, and the best receiving coach, Richard Williamson from Alabama, the man who turned out Dennis Homan. He drew pass patterns incessantly, talked technical football over and over, preached the enthusiasm of the Razorback fans and got across the idea of nothing but national championships at Arkansas with Jack winning two or three Heisman trophies.

Now came Oklahoma Coach Chuck Fairbanks. Didn't OU have everything that Jack desired in a university? It's out of state but still close enough to home, only 300 miles. It was a campus town, Norman was, a beautiful school with some age to it. It would be like going away somewhere. Jack, but your folks could still see you play. And Oklahoma is winning again. You can play in the Cotton Bowl every year against Texas, don't forget, and probably go to some other bowls, too, in the postseason. You can start as a sophomore for us, Jack, and we can win a national championship at OU. You just can't do that at several other schools.

With the signing date past and Jack still not committed, it was natural that a lot of people, including some coaches, felt Mildren was holding out for improper inducements—that he was simply going to the highest bidder. Actually, a few exes from here and there had made some suggestions. Jack had been offered investments, with no cash output, of course. He could lease a new automobile at only $10 per month. Some splendid summer jobs had been casually mentioned. The offers were not definitive, nor were they listened to, and they were far from the reason that Jack had not signed. His was not an unusual problem for a teen-ager with a significant decision to make and parents willing to guide him, but not to decide for him. He could not make up his mind.

The talk continued. And now the family listened to all kinds of things that disturbed them. When the father left the cable TV company to go to work for American Mud, a company which sells to oil explorers, it was said that he had been fired because Jack wasn't going to Texas (the cable TV owner was a Long-horn booster) and that Oklahoma exes had fixed up the other job so they could give him a lot of business—if Jack went to OU. A newspaper ran the story that Merrill Green could join the coaching staff of whatever school Jack picked. Another paper printed the story that several schools would take the whole Cooper High backfield if Jack came. The Mildren's postman told Jack's quiet, pleasant and bewildered mother, Mary Glynne, "If he goes to Oklahoma, I'll never root for him again." And he kept getting anti-OU wires and letters. One of them said, "How will you feel when those stupid Okies boo The Eyes of Texas!" Another brutally said, "I is gonna be yo roommate at Oklahoma." It was signed, "Abraham Washington."

Finally Jack made up his mind. It was two months, 27 official coaching visits, 500 letters, 100 telegrams and 150 long-distance calls later, but he made his decision. He felt sure about his choice, but he wanted to sleep on it one more night. As he slept, both Oklahoma Coach Chuck Fairbanks and Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles were in Abilene waiting for the word. Mildren had managed to narrow it down to those two.

The next morning Jack awakened, and his family watched as he called Frank Broyles at the Starlite Motel.

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