April 4, 2005
Barry Switzer, who won three national championships at Oklahoma and the Super Bowl with the Dallas Cowboys, is the 2005 winner of the Robert R. Neyland Memorial Trophy, awarded annually by the Knoxville Quarterback Club to an outstanding leader in intercollegiate athletics. He is the second former Oklahoma coach so honored, joining the legendary Bud Wilkinson, who was honored in 1973.
The Quarterback Club will honor Switzer at 7 p.m. Friday, April 15, in the Wolf-Kaplan Room in Neyland Stadium. The next day, April 16,Switzer will be the featured speaker at the annual Awards Luncheon of the East Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame at the Foundry, beginning at 11:15 a.m. Tickets for Friday night are $25 and may be obtained by calling 671-3313. Tickets for the Saturday luncheon are $25 and may be obtained by calling Tom Mattingly, 974-1266.
The excellence of winning set during the Wilkinson era would carry into the 1970s and 1980 under Switzer, a fiery, high-strung Arkansas native. Coming from very humble beginnings, Switzer used his talents as a football player to carry him through college, playing four years for Frank Broyles' Razorbacks.
After a short military stint, he returned to Fayetteville in 1962 to serve as an assistant coach for coach Broyles. In 1964, he came to Norman, serving again as an assistant coach. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1971, and in 1973, he was named the Sooners head coach.
From 1973 to the end of his tenure in 1989, his team composed a record of 157-29-4, a winning percentage of .837, fourth highest all-time in college football. Under his guidance, the team won back-to-back championships in 1974 and 1975, the first time such a feat was accomplished in NCAA pigskin history. The pinnacle would be reached a third time in 1985, as the Sooners upset Penn State in the Orange Bowl for the championship.
One final point. During the Switzer Era, Oklahoma either won outright or tied for the Big 8 title each year from 1973 to 1980.
Switzer moved up to the pro football ranks in 1994, as former college teammate and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired him to replaced Jimmy Johnson as Dallas' head coach. The team moved on to win the Super Bowl in the 1995 season, and Switzer stepped down from the position after the 1997 season.
For his collegiate gridiron accomplishments, Barry Switzer was honored with membership in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Other award winners for the Quarterback Club luncheon are the late Jim Fyffe, the legendary Auburn broadcaster, who was the "Voice of the Tigers" in football and basketball, who will receive the Lindsey Nelson Outstanding Collegiate Broadcaster award; Vince Dooley, former head coach and athletics director at the University of Georgia, who will receive the Bob Woodruff award for collegiate administrators; and Quarterback Club president Charlie Morgan, who will receive the George L. Hunter Award for the outstanding member of the Quarterback Club.