College football fans need no introduction to Bud Wilkinson, but few of them know the great University of Oklahoma football coach as a devoted father. In Dear Jay, Love Bud
, Jay Wilkinson, Bud’s younger son, shares forty-seven letters his father wrote to him while he was in college and graduate school. Spanning the early to mid-1960s, these letters reveal Bud’s deep love for his son, as well as the philosophy and values that led to his remarkable success in sports and in life.
Beginning with the first letter Bud wrote when Jay left home, this collection shows a father guiding his son toward his own path while stressing the importance of service to others. The embodiment of the scholar-athlete, Bud mixes encouragement with intellectual discussions. When Jay reads American philosopher William James for a class at Duke University, his father, a serious student of literature, reads the book, too, and uses its insights to help Jay deal with the challenges of his freshman year. Bud writes about his own challenges, as well, including his debate over whether to accept the Kennedy administration’s invitation to head the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. Jay’s comments about each of these letters provide context and further insight.
By the time Jay becomes a graduate student at the Episcopal Theological School, the correspondence turns toward religion and politics, as Bud reflects on the philosophical issues of the day and on his unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1964. His belief that the greatest leaders are not always the most popular made him an unlikely politician even then, but a wonderful role model and interlocutor for his son. Bud’s thoughts on ethics in business and politics are as inspiring today as when he wrote them a half-century ago.
"Bud Wilkinson defined greatness as a football coach. The letters in this book to his son Jay reach far beyond sports and speak to the timeless lessons every father wants to leave to his children." —Bob Stoops
“We all have much to learn from the loving, encouraging, and insightful letters of Bud Wilkinson to his son. While Bud was undoubtedly a gifted football coach, these letters show that his success was deeply rooted in his personal values and in his love for young people.”—David Boren, President of the University of Oklahoma
“Jay Wilkinson has done what many a son has wished he could do for his father—create a loving and revealing look at the man who has had such a deeply positive influence on his life.”—Charlie Rose, broadcast journalist and host of Charlie Rose
“Bud Wilkinson’s success as a coach was due not just to the speed, strength, and skill of his players but also to the values and principles that guided every action he took and every decision he made. Those values and principles, articulated in these letters, can inspire leaders today to achieve success—whether in business, politics, or academia—with integrity.”—Roy Bostock, Chairman of the Board of Yahoo! Inc.
“The life Jay Wilkinson describes in this wonderful book is the life of faith. He may not have intended to do that, but faith runs through all of these letters like a golden thread. Jay helps make our own faith come alive in these words of a father to his son.”—Right Reverend Steven Charleston, Interim Dean, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oklahoma City
“The genius of Bud Wilkinson as a football coach becomes apparent in these remarkable letters to his son Jay. He imbued his players with the same values he instilled in his sons. He treated the players like family members, and it showed.”—Barry Switzer, former head football coach, University of Oklahoma and Dallas Cowboys
“I had great respect for Bud Wilkinson, whom we all remember as one of our great football coaches. Now we know something else: he was a great letter writer, and a great dad. These letters to his son not only tell us a little more about Bud, but also a lot about our country during the tumultuous ’60s. You don’t have to be a football fan to enjoy this peek back into time.”—George H. W. Bush, Forty-First President of the United States