It’s that time again, folks. As of this Thursday, the Oklahoma Sooners are officially 100 days out from kicking off the 2021 college football season! As usual, big things are expected of this year’s team, but with the way things are shaping up right now, this fall could very well turn out to be an extra special campaign for the program as a whole.
Speaking of making history, up first in our Countdown to Kickoff is the legendary quartet of coaches that have made OU Football the giant it is in collegiate sports today. I’m talking about Bennie Owen, Bud Wilkinson, Barry Switzer and Bob Stoops. To date, Oklahoma is the only university across all divisions to boast four head coaches who each have more than 100 career wins at the same school.
Bennie Owen — 122 wins, 1905-1926
11 years after the birth of the OU football program, Benjamin Gilbert Owen began his tenure as the head coach of Oklahoma. As the school’s sixth HC, he only needed four seasons to become the career wins leader at the time, and just eight seasons to match the combined win total of his five predecessors.
It was apparent from the early going that Owen was a different caliber of coach than the Sooners were used to. Not only was he winning games at an unprecedented clip, he was building a foundation that would truly last well beyond his lifetime.
In his 22 years as head coach of Oklahoma, Bennie Owen amassed a career record of 122-54-16. In fact, while he was calling the shots on the gridiron, he also won over 100 games each as OU’s baseball (‘06-’22) and basketball (‘08-’21) head coach. If that wasn’t enough, he also served as the Athletic Director from 1907-1934. In 1951, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Today, his legacy lives on through the continued success of the program, as well as the honor of having the football field named after him.
Bud Wilkinson — 145 wins, 1947-1963
Charles Burnham Wilkinson, more famously known as ‘Bud’, took Oklahoma to new heights in the realm of college football when he took over in 1947. By his fourth season, he had claimed the school’s first AP recognized national championship, and over the next six years he won two more. Under his reign, the Sooners were regarded as the sport’s gold standard.
As far as records go, Wilkinson is credited with arguably the most unbreakable mark in football — a 47-game win streak from 1953-1957. More than 60 years later, the closest that mark has come to being threatened was by the Toledo Rockets, whose 35-game win streak came to an end in 1971.
Wilkinson is also credited with popularizing the Oklahoma Drill. Additionally, he was also the first to utilize the ‘Play Like a Champion Today’ sign and motto, and don’t let fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ever try to tell you differently.
Over the course of his 17 seasons on the sideline for the Sooners, Bud Wilkinson’s teams went 145-29-4. In total, he won three national titles, 14 conference championships, and in 1969 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Barry Switzer — 157 wins, 1973-1988
It is said that there is only one Oklahoma, and that’s a fact. It is also true that there is only one king, and his name is Barry Switzer. Throughout most of the 70s and 80s, the Sooners reigned supreme under his watch.
Perhaps more so than any other OU football coach, Switzer was always the most vibrant, jovial personality in any given room. For a competitor with such an elite killer instinct, you wouldn’t know it by how charming he was and still is off the field. The only thing he loved more than beating Texas and hanging half a hundred on teams was fostering life-long relationships with his players.
After winning three national titles and a dozen Big Eight crowns, Barry Switzer was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001. Overall, his collegiate head coaching record of 157-29-4 gives him the third-highest winning percentage (.837) in FBS history.
Bob Stoops — 190 wins, 1999-2016
For many Sooner fans, the 90s were essentially the dark ages for this storied Oklahoma football program. Fortunately, there was a light at the end of that tunnel — the hiring of Bob Stoops.
In just two years, Stoops lifted OU from a sub .500 campaign to an undefeated, BCS National Championship winning season. From the start of the new millennium, Oklahoma returned to its former glory and became a virtual mainstay in the top 10 while regularly competing for championships.
Although he has roots as a defensive player and coordinator, Stoops was one of the first head coaches at a traditional power to blow the door wide open on the use of spread offense. The offense for his 2008 team re-wrote nearly every major statistical record at the time, both from a scoring and yardage output measures. He also re-established the Sooners’ dominance at home as well as in Big 12 play, winning more conference titles (10) than he had losses in Norman (9).
In 18 seasons, Bob Stoops’ consistency led to him becoming the winningest head coach in OU history, building a career record of 190-48. In 2020, he was officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!