Q&A with Oklahoma legend Barry Switzer
Barry Switzer was on the sidelines for two of Oklahoma's 10 meetings with Notre Dame in 1966 and 1968, and still resides in Norman, Okla. The former Sooners coach racked up a 157-29-4 record and won three national titles before coaching the Dallas Cowboys from 1994-97. He'll be in South Bend this weekend to see the Sooners play Notre Dame, and Fox Sports Southwest caught up with him to talk about a variety of subjects.
Author's note: Portions of this interview were edited for length.
What can you tell me about your new media venture, Coaches Cabana?
We started it last year with Mike Henry and Neal Pilson. Neal was the president of CBS Sports for 14 years. He brought March Madness to network television. He brought NASCAR to TV. He's a renowned name in sports television. Neal and I and Mike formed a company called Second Screen Sports Media, LLP. Second screening is something huge on the scene. We're ahead of the trend. We did it last year out of my cabana in Norman. I never go to the games. I always watched on my television. I had a monitor in front of me and a webcam in front of me and watched the game. On my monitor, I told people to tweet me and e-mail me, and I would interact in real time with them about the game and answer their questions.
The sponsors loved the interactivity. I'm watching the same game you're watching. You can use your computer or tablet or whatever you want and see me on Coaches Cabana and interact with me. All you had to do was turn down the sound on the TV and turn me up and you'd have me. The difference is one day in the near future, maybe another year from now, everybody will have a smart television. You'll have the ability to have internet on one side of the TV and the cable channel on the other side. You can see the game and see my interaction. I have a host and ex-players come in and sit with me. I have a lot of activity in my cabana, 20-30 people. It's like coming to my house and watching the game with me. It's impromptu, nothing orchestrated and nothing sterile or staged. It's just having an opportunity to visit with me, and people can see it from anywhere.
This year, we did about six other schools. We're doing Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, I think Nebraska, LSU. So, we've got about six other schools doing it right now for CoachesCabana.com.
What do you see from Oklahoma so far this year?
I think we'll find out a little bit more this weekend. Notre Dame's the best team we've played. They're not what they were last year offensively or defensively, but we haven't played anybody of their caliber. I think we'll find out more about who we are.
What do you see from a personnel standpoint at Oklahoma?
We're not as talented as we have been in the past at a lot of positions, but at some positions we are. We've had more talented teams, but we'll find out more as we play. The league is not very good., I don't think the league is very talented at all. But I think it's kind of wide open for several teams. I don't discount Texas right now. I don't think Texas is out of it. Obviously OSU and Baylor are in the middle of it. TCU's a contender. Oklahoma's in the middle of it. You can have 3-4 teams who really have an opportunity to win a championship in this league.
I'd agree. I think the league is way down from what we've seen in recent years.
It really is.
How would you describe coaching on the sidelines in South Bend?
I don't think of it any different than any other place. I don't carry the Notre Dame mystique that everybody else does. I mean, Notre Dame is one of the great schools in college football, but I don't share any reverence with them at all. They are a outstanding football school, but I don't carry them any higher than I do Alabama or Oklahoma.
What were your thoughts on what happened to Bo Pelini earlier this month, with that tape being leaked?
I'm sure that living in this era, you can never be too careful about what you say because of the technology we have. I'm sure other coaches felt the same way about it and they'd probably say the same thing, but there's just wasn't heard. I understand how he feels, but you can't do that. It's a shame he got caught. He's not the first and won't be the last.
How would you have handled that publicly after the tape came out?
What can you do? You apologize. You can't take it back, can you? Just tell 'em "Hey, can't you take a joke?"
Red River's coming fast. What's the best story you have from your years coaching that game?
The best stories are when we win. I like beating Texas. But, the first time we played them, we hung half a hundred on them down there. That first time was back in 1966 I was an assistant coach. Oklahoma hadn't beaten Texas in eight years. We got the job done that first year. To me, because of Jim Mackenzie, probably that and what that game meant to the fans, I remember that more than any of them.
What do you think about Mack Brown and his situation in Texas?
Well, Mack's got a great school to recruit to. Mack would be the first to tell you that they haven't performed to expectations they have at that program. So, I'll leave it at that.
Do you feel like his job should be in jeopardy, or do you think that talk is unfair?
I'll say this: After his win the other night against Kansas State--Kansas State's about as good as they have been--and the league is not very good, so Mack Brown is still right in the middle of it. For how they played from here on out, I don't discount Texas at all. I think they're a talented team. They have good talent, and the talent on that team is better than anybody we've played so far. We're going to play them a couple games from now and we'll find out.
If somebody put you in DeLoss Dodds' shoes and, for whatever reason, Mack Brown was not going to be the coach next year, who should Texas go after?
Well, is DeLoss going to be there? I don't know. What I read is it may be both of them. I'd heard he may resign, but I don't know. Those people put out rumors or whatever.
To me, my guy that I've always said, in my opinion that fits Texas right now if the job was open--and the job isn't open--but if the job was open, it would be Art Briles. Art Briles has won everywhere he's been. He's proven he's an outstanding coach, and he's Texas. He was raised in Texas, played in Texas and the high school coaches love him. He will do a great job in recruiting, which is what it comes down to. And if you have a coach the high school coaches like and have a great feeling for and wants them to be successful, you have a tremendous upper hand on everybody in the state recruiting top players.
Do you think a coach could come in there who had won big other places but didn't have a lot of ties to Texas? Do you think a coach can start those relationships as the coach at Texas, or do you need a guy who has prior relationships?
I think anybody who has prior relationships with other coaches is very damn important. A perfect stranger coming in, someone who's never recruited Texas and has no relationship? What are you talking about? Relationships is everything. That's what gets jobs. That's what gets job opportunities. That's what builds teams and coaching staffs and companies, is relationships. It's all about that. It's not a bunch of strangers picked up on the side of the road. It's always been about that. That's my assessment of it. I've always admired the job (Art) has done at Houston and at Baylor and at Stephenville, Texas. He's won everywhere. He's won championships everywhere.