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OU football: Jack Santee spoke up for Barry Switzer

Jack Santee died last weekend, and Barry Switzer will speak at Santee’s memorial service Saturday in Tulsa. Which is only fitting. Santee once spoke up for Switzer.

“I know I wouldn’t be the head coach at Oklahoma if not for Jack Santee,” Switzer said this week.

After the 1972 season, when Chuck Fairbanks left OU for the New England Patriots, Switzer was not an automatic choice to succeed Fairbanks. At least that’s Switzer’s perception.

Switzer said some factions wanted to chase Vince Dooley (Georgia) or Doug Dickey (Florida) or even Darrell Royal, the latter in an eternal quest to bring back the Sooner alum. But Santee, who had played football for OU under Bud Wilkinson, spoke strongly for Switzer.

“I would not be have been the head coach at Oklahoma if not for Jack Santee,” Switzer said. “If Jack hadn’t knew it was important to keep the continuity (of the staff) in place, I wouldn’t have been.”

Switzer recalls a two-hour meeting with OU president Paul Sharp in his Boyd Street home. Santee and regents chairman Huston Huffman also were in attendance. Santee and Switzer did all the talking. “Huston Huffman never said a word,” Switzer said. “Paul Sharp never said a word.”

Eventually, the regents agreed with Santee. “So they gave me a nine-month contract,” Switzer said with a laugh. “Better announce it as a four-year contract,” he told the regents.

“Jack made the decision,” Switzer said. “They all deferred to him. He played for Bud, coached for Bud. None of the rest had ever covered a kickoff or brought one back. They didn’t know what the hell to do. But Jack Santee did.”

You know the rest. Switzer’s first three teams went 32-1-1 and won two national championships.

Santee’s 11 a.m. Saturday memorial service will be at Tulsa’s Christ the King Catholic Church. Santee is survived by Helen, his wife of 60 years, three children and four grandchildren.

Santee died Friday at the age of 88. He was born in Skiatook, went to OU and graduated in 1953. Santee was a graduate assistant coach for Wilkinson while he attended law school

Santee’s legal career spanned 60 years; he joined Martin, Logan, Moyers, Martin & Hull law firm in 1958 and retired from there in 2016. Santee kept dabbling in football, including a stint as the first head coach for Tulsa Bishop Kelley.

Santee also spent seven years on the OU board of regents, where he led the decision to hire a certain a football coach who won a few games with the Sooners.

Related Photos
Barry Switzer speaks as the University of Oklahoma Sooners' Switzer Center is dedicated on the south end of  the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

Barry Switzer speaks as the University of Oklahoma Sooners' Switzer Center is dedicated on the south end of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-8b87dafbcba8388445aa344edd07599c.jpg" alt="Photo - Barry Switzer speaks as the University of Oklahoma Sooners' Switzer Center is dedicated on the south end of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman" title="Barry Switzer speaks as the University of Oklahoma Sooners' Switzer Center is dedicated on the south end of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman"><figcaption>Barry Switzer speaks as the University of Oklahoma Sooners' Switzer Center is dedicated on the south end of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, May 5, 2018. Photo by Steve Sisney, The Oklahoman</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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