Frost details several ways the coach went out of his way help athletes retain their eligibility, reinforcing that his impact went well beyond coaching the freshman football team.
It is obvious to the reader that Frost’s robust original research gave him the confidence to write with a strong voice. He richly describes Robertson’s total support for his wrestlers and the program he brought back from obscurity (no scholarships) at OU that won national championships in 1952, 1953 and 1957.
The coach’s success on the mat, a career .750 winning percentage, is still the best for any OU wrestling coach, who only coached after his tenure. Robertson’s devotion to coaching the Sooner freshman football team is another important subject the book brings to life.
Frost may have helped raise the level of writing about that Wilkinson era by sharing Robertson’s former student-athlete’s worshipful oral histories in a style that may soon be judged as literature.
On his way to turning this oral history into prose, Frost rivals Studs Terkel’s style in the 1974 book “Working,” that same style that later won the Chicago writer the 1985 Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction. Frost’s book is comparable to Terkel’s work in this new author’s portrayal of the different facets of Robertson’s devotion to his alma mater and its student-athletes.
For most OU fans, this vivid depiction of first-hand accounts from this era will probably be a great read. For the reader who has direct knowledge or a background in the way history has portrayed OU’s early success, this is literature.
This writer also sees literary similarities in one passage that resemble Earnest Hemingway’s style. Although Hemingway didn’t write nonfiction in book form, what passes between the ambulances drivers in “A Farewell to Arms” might be nonfiction.