Or­ange Bowl MVP Bob War­mack

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - SPORTS - BY ED GOD­FREY

Bobby War­mack led Ok­la­homa to the

1967 Big Eight ti­tle and a trip to the Or­ange Bowl against Ten­nessee. The Soon­ers nearly won a na­tional cham­pi­onship that year after be­ing picked in the pre­sea­son to fin­ish fourth in the Big Eight.

Bob War­mack was a three-year start­ing quar­ter­back at Ok­la­homa. He led OU to a 10-1 record in Chuck Fair­banks’ first sea­son as head coach in 1967 and was MVP of the Or­ange Bowl where the No. 3 Soon­ers de­feated No. 2 Ten­nessee, 26-24.

I was born and raised in Ada.

I was for­tu­nate enough to have some re­ally good coaches early on, not only in foot­ball be­ing Craig McB­room - who is a leg­end in high school coach­ing in Ok­la­homa - but I had a pretty good base­ball coach, Dean “Lefty” Leighton.

The tra­di­tion that Ada had in foot­ball was second to none.

As a young kid grow­ing up in Ada, that’s what you did on Fri­day nights. You would go out to Nor­ris Sta­dium and watch Ada High School foot­ball and dream about one day play­ing for the Cougars.

My first year in high school, my sopho­more year, Ada had a pretty good team. They won the state cham­pi­onship that year. I sat on the bench.

The next year, my ju­nior year, I start. We had a re­ally good team. A cou­ple of guys got schol­ar­ships to OU, but McAlester beat us and we didn’t ad­vance far in the play­offs. My se­nior year, we won the state cham­pi­onship.

On the week­ends as a kid, we would lis­ten to OU foot­ball on the ra­dio. I would sit there with my dad and he would chart every OU foot­ball game.

The first time that I went to OU to watch a game was my se­nior year in high school. I just went with a buddy and his fam­ily. I re­mem­ber how big Ralph Neely was. When ev­ery­body got down in a stance you could al­ways tell who Ralph Neely was be­cause his butt was about two feet taller than ev­ery­body else’s.

Carl Al­li­son, who played at OU, was the coach who ac­tu­ally re­cruited me. It didn’t take a lot of re­cruit­ing to get me.

When (Gomer Jones) re­signed to be­come ath­letic di­rec­tor, Jim MacKen­zie from Arkansas was hired. He brought (Barry) Switzer and (Chuck) Fair­banks and Galen Hall and Homer Rice. They re­ally had a great staff.

That off-sea­son, they im­ple­mented what was called “The Fourth Quar­ter Class.” It was the hard­est one-hour work­out any­one had ever gone through. We lost 1,400 pounds col­lec­tively as a team.

That off-sea­son pro­gram got ev­ery­body ready for spring ball. We had seven quar­ter­backs on the depth chart and I was No. 7, but at the end of spring prac­tice I had worked my way up to No. 3.

Che­bon Da­con was a fresh­man with me. He re­ally was the guy to beat. He was an Indian from Capi­tol Hill and ev­ery­body thought he was go­ing to be the heir ap­par­ent to the quar­ter­back po­si­tion be­cause he had the size, the speed, the pass­ing abil­ity, but he tore up his knee his fresh­man year and never saw the field.

The start of fall camp in ‘66 they moved (quar­ter­back) Gene Ca­gle to de­fen­sive back. Then it was be­tween Jim Bur­gar, who was from Lindsay, and my­self. Jim ac­tu­ally started the first game against Ore­gon. I came in and made some things hap­pen and they just kind of stuck with me. I started from that point on.

The Texas game was two games later. We hadn’t beaten Texas in eight years and I prob­a­bly had one of the best games I ever had. We beat them 18-9. I had 280 yards of to­tal of­fense, 220 pass­ing and 60 rush­ing and scored a touch­down. I think that game kind of so­lid­i­fied me as a starter and ev­ery­one hav­ing the con­fi­dence of me lead­ing the team.

My ju­nior year we went un­de­feated in con­fer­ence play, beat Ten­nessee in the Or­ange Bowl.

We were picked to fin­ish fourth in the Big Eight Con­fer­ence. We only lost one game, 9-7, (to Texas). We beat Texas all over the field but missed four field goals oth­er­wise we would have been the na­tional cham­pi­ons that year.

The Kansas game that ’67 sea­son was a high­light. We were down 10-0 at half­time. We had to beat Kansas to go on and have a chance at win­ning the Big Eight. They had a great team. They had Bobby Dou­glass, a quar­ter­back who went on and played at Chicago.

We came back and I threw a 30-yard touch­down pass to Steve Za­bel in the last minute to go ahead 14-10 and win the game. We drove 96 yards for a touch­down in the last five min­utes of the game.

The thing about play­ing on a team, play­ing on a great team like that ’67 team, those con­tacts are for life. I stay in touch with most of those guys. We meet up at the Varsity O Club be­fore the home foot­ball games. We all re­main very close to this day.

In my opin­ion, there were seven guys (Bob Kalsu, Granville Lig­gins, Ed­die Hin­ton, Steve Za­bel, Steve Owens, Kenny Men­den­hall and Jim Files) on that ’67 cham­pi­onship team that could play for any Sooner team in any decade.

My se­nior year we were 7-4.

We tied for the Big Eight (ti­tle). We tied with Kansas but we beat Kansas. We went to the Blue­bon­net Bowl and played SMU. I hurt my knee right be­fore the half. Five plays later Steve Za­bel hurt his knee and we get beat 28-27.

I was not good enough to go on to the next level. I came back to school and grad­u­ated and Chuck (Fair­banks) put me on the staff. Then, I had an op­por­tu­nity to go to Mis­souri un­der Al Onofrio.

I was at Mis­souri coach­ing quar­ter­backs for three years then went to the University of Wy­oming un­der Fred Akers.

We won the WAC con­fer­ence in ’76 and went to the Fi­esta Bowl and played Ok­la­homa and got our butts kicked roy­ally.

When Dar­rell (Royal) re­tired, I went with Fred to Texas in ’77 which was Earl Camp­bell’s se­nior year, so I got to coach Earl to the Heis­man Tro­phy.

I coached four years, got fired, and got out of coach­ing.

I ended up get­ting into in­sur­ance and in­vest­ments. That’s what I’ve done for 25 years, work­ing with com­pa­nies on their em­ployee ben­e­fit pack­ages. Right now I got a lit­tle block of busi­nesses that I ser­vice but other than that I play golf and fish and just try to en­joy liv­ing.

I make most of the home (OU) games. A bunch of my Ada boys, we got an RV trip set up to go to Colum­bus for the Ohio State game. We did that for the Ten­nessee game a cou­ple of years ago. We got to find three more tick­ets, but we are go­ing to go up and spend about a week on the road.


OU quar­ter­back Bob War­mack talks to head coach Chuck Fair­banks in the 1968 AstroBlue­bon­net Bowl against SMU.

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