It’s been a tough several weeks for Oklahoma Sooners legends with the news that former head football coach, Chuck Fairbanks, has lost his battle with cancer. Just weeks ago, former quarterback Steve Davis lost his life in a plane crash.
Fairbanks coached the Sooners for six years from 1967-1972 before heading to the NFL. He took over the Sooners from Jim Mackenzie, who suddenly died. He led the Sooners to three Big 8 Conference titles and a 52-15-1 record. He was also the reason why the wishbone was brought to Norman.
There was some controversy after he left the program, as recruiting violations surfaced by the way of altered transcripts. They were placed on a post-season ban and had to forfeit nine wins from the 1972 season after he left.
His assistant coach was promoted to take over and as soon as they were removed from the bowl ban, they won two consecutive National Championships. The replacement coach? Barry Switzer.
Fairbanks was involved in what is known as the “Game of the Century”, which was played between Oklahoma and the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1971.
He was one of the main reasons for the Sooners program turning around in the early 1970s, despite all the negative noise about him. His former players have said that they loved playing for Coach Fairbanks and they learned a lot from him about the game and about life.
The coach was diagnosed and had been battling brain cancer since late-August of 2012. He started chemo treatments at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona in early September. His family announced his battle was over on Tuesday afternoon.
My thoughts are with the Fairbanks family.