Football Recruiting From the Dark Ages

Much as changed over the years of my life including the way colleges go about recruiting football players.  I went through that process quite some time ago.  My junior year in high school I had had some modicum success.  I made second team All City and even second team All Area which was a pretty big deal in that era and place.  During the summer before my senior year started I received a number of letters from colleges congratulating me on my past season and wishing me well for the upcoming season.  They all said they were interested in me as a recruit and would be keeping up with me.  In those days there were no text messages, emails or voice mails.    Everything was done by phone or first class mail.  It was exciting for a 17 year old to receive those letters. 

My senior year I did fairly well and made first team All City and even first team  All Area and got on the score board by making Honorable Mention for All State.  I had harbored hopes of making first or second team All State but I least I made the listing.  There were lots of really good players around the state.  Recruiting seasons for the colleges began in earnest right after our season.  I started getting some calls and more letters.  I was invited along with a few others to attend the Baylor/SMU game at the Cotton Bowl as a visitor on the Baylor side.  That was fun to be on the bench during the game and see it really up close and personal.  Baylor had an All American running back/cornerback named Ronnie Bull that year.  He was good and had a terrific name for a football player.  He played both positions because then all the players were required to play both ways on offense and defense.  The head coach at Baylor visited with us recruits a few minutes after the game and said they would be in touch but I never heard from them again.

I was recruited and visited SMU and the then head coach.  Since it was in my home town I was familar with it and the history of Doak Walker and the prior success.  The freshman coach in those days was usually the lead recruiter at all the schools.  The freshmen then were not allowed to play on the varsity and had their own schedule and team.   He called me often and was the most persistent of all the recruiters.  Princeton even came to visit me but the problem there was money.   Dad was doing well financially by then but Princeton didn’t offer football scholarships only those based on financial need and dad would have been required to pay the full freight.  I just never could seriously consider making him do that even though I was sure impressed with the academics.   I was invited to visit Okla. State and went up there for a weekend.  It was dreary in Stillwater in those days and it was a backwater and the head coach was more like a funeral director personality than a head coach.  I decided during the visit it was not for me.

A few days later in late November I was called out of class and sent to our coach’s office.  A coach from OU was there.  They learned about me and decided to visit me based on their interviews with other players in the area they were recruiting.  One of the standard questions they asked every recruit was what player -opponent they played against had impressed them the most as a good player.   My name came up with many of them and that is why they decided to visit me.  Coach Ward was an assistant line coach and he arranged for me to visit the school.  You were allowed two visits. The SMU coach was really riled that I was going to visit OU.  He wanted me to sign with them right away and implied that if I went “north of the Red River” they would withdraw their offer to me.   I went on the first visit with my folks and my then girlfriend (now the little lady of the house for lo these many years).  It was in a private plane that belonged to some wealthy oil man in Dallas who was an OU alum.  It was my first flight and my wife’s.  She got really air sick but managed the trip without throwing up.  I went back a couple of weeks later by myself and was taken to great steak house in Oklahoma City by upper classmen on the team but they were all Texans.  They would always use Texan to recruit more Texans.  I got the full tour of the athletic dorms and stadium.  Bud Wilkinson was the head coach then and already a legend in his own time as they say.  I was very impressed to say the least.   I was even more impressed when a few days later he was in our living room eating a cake that my mom had baked. My dad really liked him too.   I was visited also by some big name alums like Jerry Tubbs who had been an All American there and was playing pro football in Dallas at that time. 

I decided on OU.  I liked coach Wilkinson and he was a very good coach and a great guy.  I went there.  The SMU coach continued to call and try to get me to change my mind.  I signed early the next year.  Even though everyone talked about the scholarships being 4 year scholarships they actually were for a two year period and there was a tacit understanding that they would be renewed and they always were.  On the recruiting trips they failed to mention that OU was a land grant college and that I would be required to be in the ROTC for two years.  All male students at such schools were required to do that.   I went there and was on the team until I transferred back home and married that hearty air traveler.  My time there is a story for another day.

A meteor is space rock that is and remains about earth’s atmoshere.  A meteorite is the residue of that same rock when it has descended through the atmoshpere and landed on Mother Earth.


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