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October 31, 2011

Barry’s greatness hard to put into words

NORMAN — I sat down to write this story about Bob Barry Sr. 15 minutes ago. A deadline looms. I have nothing.

Where does one begin?

Maybe with what others have already said, responding as only they can on the day of an institution’s death.

“We have lost a true legend in Bob Barry,” offered Sooner athletic director Joe Castiglione. “He was our eyes when we couldn’t see, our voice when unable to speak and our passion when we needed it expressed.”

Toby Rowland, the man who stepped into Barry’s old job just this season went a different direction.

“I never saw Bob have a bad day. He loved life. And he loved his job. Even after 50 years of broadcasting he would show up at the stadium like a kid in a candy store …His advice and words of wisdom will forever be cherished in my heart,” he said. “This is a tremendously sad day, but I rejoice that heaven just got a legend.”

I like both statements.

They’re both right in their way.

Barry started calling Oklahoma games in 1961. Then he called Oklahoma State from 1973 to 1990. Then he came back and never left.

He was the voice and the eyes of the fan. And he did love it, maybe not every single step of the way, who does, but you get the picture. He was one of the lucky ones.

Nine days ago he was sitting behind me in the press box watching OU get run over by Texas Tech. Last Tuesday he was at Bob Stoops’ press luncheon, breaking bread with Merv Johnson and listening to Stoops try to explain it all.

He looked good.

He sounded good.

Death doesn’t ask how it’s going.

Doesn’t seem right.

David Boren, OU president, said Barry represented “the best of the Sooner spirit,” which is undoubtedly true, even if I’m not sure what exactly it means, or its flip side.

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