By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis was among two victims in a plane crash Sunday in South Bend, Ind. St. Joseph County (Ind.) Coroner Randy Magdalinski confirmed Monday.
Two persons survived the crash and are hospitalized. A woman on the ground was injured. The second victim has not been identified.
The Oklahoma football family mourned the death of one its most highly respected members.
Davis, 60, was best known as the Sooners’ quarterback from 1973-75. During that span OU went 32-1-1 and claimed back-to-back national championships in 1974 and 1975. His 32 wins were a program record until it was surpassed this past season by Landry Jones.
Davis, who was born in Sallisaw and was an All-State quarterback at Sallisaw High School his senior year, wasn’t a highly touted recruit when he arrived in Norman in the fall of 1971.
His former coach, Barry Switzer, and teammates remembered Davis as the epitome of overachievement who was able to live out his dream.
“Back then I think we had 250 kids on the roster, and I believe Steve started out about eighth on the depth chart,” Switzer said in a statement. “Of course, we all know that he went on to post a 32-1-1 record and help us win two national championships. Steve was surrounded by great talent on those teams, but he was truly an exceptional leader. I was proud of him. The entire state of Oklahoma was proud of him. We still are.”
Davis ran the wishbone offense like a scientist with a flair for the dramatic.
“He was exceptionally bright and had a tremendous amount of football savvy,” teammate Steve Calonkey said.
OU teams in his era were some of the most talented in the program’s history. Between 1974-76 OU had 24 players selected in the NFL draft and produced 14 different players who were named first-team All-Americans during that span.
Davis never received those accolades, but was respected and admired by those who did.
“I’m a true believer that guys like that — even if their talents aren’t that of a first-round draft choice — are successful because of the desire they have and the willingness to do whatever it takes to win. That crimson and cream they’re wearing and that interlocking O-U, I don’t thing there’s any amount of ability that could overcome the desire,” said former OU All-American running back and teammate Joe Washington. “He was the epitome of being a Sooner and projected what that really means.”
Davis’ final game at OU was the 1976 Orange Bowl. He helped lead OU to a 14-6 victory over Michigan and its fourth national title New Year’s night in Miami. Davis was named the game’s most valuable player.
Davis would go on to spend 18 years as a college football broadcaster and went into private business in Tulsa. He was currently working in real estate and radio broadcasting. He also was a motivational speaker.
The latter took him throughout the state and the country. Washington made many of those trips with Davis after both had graduated from OU.
“We flew together. He was a pilot and flew the plane. I always joked and called myself the co-pilot, knowing that I didn’t know anything at all about flying a plane. I just put my faith and trust in his hands and we were flying all over the state of Oklahoma in all types of conditions,” Washington recalled. “We’d speak and one story Steve would always tell was that when he grew up he only knew two songs: ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Boomer Sooner.’ He became a Baptist minister and quarterback at the University of Oklahoma. How fitting is that?”
Funeral services for Davis are pending.
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