Sad day for Sooner fans...........

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Grasshopper, May 23, 2008.

  1. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper
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    http://www.tulsaworld.com/sports/article.aspx?articleID=20080522_2__ByGue35833

    NORMAN -- Jack Mildren, the quarterback who set in motion Oklahoma’s wishbone era of the 1970s and 80s, died Thursday of stomach cancer. He was 58.

    Mildren was under center when Barry Switzer, then the Sooners’ offensive coordinator, switched from the veer to the wishbone early in OU’s 1970 season. The Sooners finished that season 7-4-1, then exploded for an 11-1 '71 season in which Mildren ran the offense to near-perfection.

    That fall, the Sooners averaged a school-record 567 yards per game, with another record 472 yards, on a record 7.1 yards per carry, of that coming on the ground.

    Mildren accounted for 1,289 rushing yards, another school record for quarterbacks, and 20 touchdowns. He finished his career with 2,025 yards on the ground, ranking behind fellow wishbone quarterbacks Jamelle Holieway, Thomas Lott and Steve Davis in that category.

    By the end of his OU run, Mildren was his
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    school’s career total yardage leader, with 5,117. He held the single-season school record for most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback (nine), and the single-game record for total offense (323 yards against Iowa State).

    Not bad for a onetime Abilene, Texas, high school wiz kid recruited for his right arm as much as his legs. In fact, Mildren once held OU’s single-season pass efficiency record, as well as the school’s career mark for touchdown passes until Cale Gundy broke that in 1993.

    Mildren was named All-American at the end of the '71 season. He led the Sooners to a 40-22 rout of Auburn in the 1972 Sugar Bowl, then became the second-round draft pick of the Baltimore Colts. He spent the next three seasons playing defensive back for the Colts and New England Patriots.

    By 1975, Mildren had moved on to a post-football career in oil and business. He was elected Oklahoma lieutenant governor in 1990, and held the position until 1994.

    More recently, Mildren served as an executive with Arvest Bank. He also co-hosted a daily talk show on Oklahoma City all-sports radio station JOX 930 with Ron Thulin.

    Mildren had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for his cancer.

    “Things are going OK,” he said in a recent Associated Press story. “Every day is a new day. I’m fighting it pretty good. I have good hopes and the doctors have good hopes, and we’ll keep going at it.”

    Though he’ll always be remember as one of OU’s football giants, Mildren accomplished nearly as much in the classroom. He was an academic All-American in 1971, and became the second Sooner inducted into the GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1998, joining Lee Roy Selmon. He also became the first Sooner to receive a post-graduate scholarship from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.


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  2. Grasshopper

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  3. Alcott

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    I was around, but too young at the time, to follow his high school years and college recruiting stories, but I have lots of old Texas Football magazines and have done a lot of reading otherwise where he came into it. He was the star QB that every school wanted at Abilene Cooper, and his senior season was perfect until the state championship game, which Cooper lost by one point to Austin Reagan, which won its first state championhip and began a 3-out-of-4 run.

    And I've also read that he was the 'beginning'-- or some say the 'return'-- of Oklahoma doing whatever it had to do to get the top athletes from the big population base of Texas, and that they were successful at this because the old Southwest Conference had more rigid recruiting rules than the Big 8 or others (rules that are national now). SWC teams could not make as many visits or other contacts, so OU, Houston (then an independent), other Big 8 and SEC teams took advantage of the situation, but OU was the big winner and they made it count. And Barry Switzer had a lot to do with this also, years before he was head coach. While still at his alma mater, Arkansas, he had recruited Texas players, setting the foundations for a very successful program in the 60's. But when he came to Oklahoma in '67, getting Mildren was one of his first assignments; and his chief opposition was Arkansas, the last SWC team that Mildren was considering. The year before, Arkansas had signed a QB, Bill Montgomery from Carrollton, TX, to run a new multiple offense, so with his many talks and visits with Mildren, Switzer convinced him that if he went to Arkansas, he would have to wait 3 years for Montgomery to graduate, leaving only one year to be the starter. Still, Mildren wavered past the usual signing date (later in those years) and there was a lot of speculation that both OU and UA were battling with illegal offers. But no substance was ever proved against either (to my knowledge; though we may wonder about inducements and his future employments with oil and finance companies in the OKC area), and in the end it was most probably the SWC restrictions that gave OU the advantage.

    While I don't remember his first 3 years at OU, I do remember the '71 season. Texas, the originator of the wishbone offense, was still ranked in the top 3, while OU, off to a great offensive surge early, was rising; then when they played each other at the Cotton Bowl, OU showed a much better speed-based veer, and dominated, 48-27. That surged them to #2, behind Nebraska, and then the season was all about the showdown betweenthem coming on Thanksgiving Day, and it was one of the best games of all time because 2 great teams both played up to their potential greatness. Nebraska won in the final minute and a half, 35-31, but the stage was clearly set for OU's future dominance of the Big 8 and perennial national runs. Mildred did not play on a national champhionship team-- he was foiled in his senior years of both HS and college-- but he had a lot to do with future success, as a player and with continuing involvement.
     
  4. Alcott

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    This thread is a month-and-a-half old, but I have found a good followup to the Jack Mildren/OU story, with it present manifestation in college athetics and recruiting: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/andy_staples/06/19/recruiting.main/index.html

    To quote 2 paragraphs:
    "One example of the Oklahoma coach's genius involved a 1968 Southwest Conference rule that allowed conference staffs to visit a recruit only once. Oklahoma, a member of the Big 8, was bound by no such rule. So Switzer, then a Sooners assistant, essentially lived three days a week at the home of Abilene, Texas, quarterback Jack Mildren. According to his 1990 autobiography, Bootlegger's Boy, Switzer spent many an evening at Mildren's house watching Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner on television alongside Mildren's parents. One night, as Switzer helped Mildred's mother, Mary Glen, with the dishes, Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings and his staff arrived for their one visit with Mildren. As Switzer walked past the Aggies coaches, he turned and called back to Mildren's mother. "Why don't you just leave them?" Switzer said. "I'll come back and help you finish them later."

    Two hours later, Stallings and his assistants walked out to find Switzer waiting. Switzer finished the dishes, and he signed Mildren, who became the first great Wishbone quarterback at Oklahoma. The SWC quickly repealed the rule."
     

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