Orange Bowl MVP Bob Warmack
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.