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November 13, 2012

When Sooners were rock stars

MOORE — History is rife with what-ifs. Most involve armies, wars and assassinations; tumult, upheaval and awful human suffering.

Maybe so much suffering could have been lessened but for this historical nugget. Maybe peace could have broken out sooner, had a particular course of action been taken or not.

Around here, there are different questions.

What if Chuck Fairbanks hadn’t given in to an assistant coach brash enough to gather the support of his fellow assistants before challenging his head coach to change his offense at midseason?

But Barry Switzer was brash enough, had the support of his fellow assistants, and Fairbanks listened, conferred with his mentor, former Michigan State coach Clarence “Biggie” Munn, and agreed to make the move. Next game, the Sooners came up short at the Cotton Bowl. But the dye for greatness had been cast.

What if Jack Santee hadn’t been on the board of regents when Fairbanks accepted the coaching offer of the New England Patriots? Switzer is convinced it was Santee’s approval that elevated him to head coach before the 1973 season.

What if Switzer had taken Marcus Dupree aside when the latter arrived on campus in 1982 and told him what he now wishes he had told him, that he was going to be harder on him than everybody else on the team, because Dupree, 18, was already better than everybody else, but Swtizer had to ride him or risk alienating those who’d already paid their dues?

These are the thoughts that spring forward upon viewing “The History of Oklahoma Football, Part III, Dynasty of Championships, 1964-1988,” a DVD that becomes available for purchase next week (right in time for Christmas shopping!) but that premiered Monday night on several screens at the Warren Theater.

The stars were out.

Switzer. Tony Casillas. Dewey Selmon. Joe Washington. Spencer Tillman. And, I’m sure, many more VIPs whose names, all these years later, are easier to recognizee than their faces.

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