At the end of World War II, the top ten college football teams were largely the same as they are today—with one exception: Oklahoma.

In 1947, Bud Wilkinson was named OU’s head football coach and became the architect of Oklahoma’s meteoric rise from mediocrity to its present status as a perennial powerhouse. Based on interviews with Wilkinson, former OU president George L. Cross, and numerous former players, author John Scott gives us the behind-the-scenes story of Wilkinson’s years at the University of Oklahoma.

Scott takes us through the teams Wilkinson directed from 1947 to 1963, revealing the philosophies and tactics Wilkinson used to turn OU into one of college football’s elite programs. A close-up view of games—from strategy to execution—brings OU football and its cast of colorful characters to life. Scott details the Sooners’ 47-game winning streak as well as thrilling games against Notre Dame, Army, USC, and others. He also provides details of Wilkinson’s breaking of the color line in OU athletics and the infamous food-poisoning incident in Chicago in 1959.

Before his death in 1994, Wilkinson reviewed the first draft of the book and wrote in a letter to the author, “The explanations of football strategies are concise and clear. They rank among the best I have ever read.” Including vignettes of Wilkinson’s closest coaching friends (Royal, Bryant, Leahy, Sanders, Blaik, Tatum), Bud Wilkinson and the Rise of Oklahoma Football captures all the drama of Oklahoma’s ascendance and serves as an authoritative and entertaining history of the sport that will appeal to all college football fans.

About The Author
John Scott is a freelance writer and former sportswriter for the Chicago Sun-Times and Tulsa Tribune.
Joseph Harroz Jr. is President of the University of Oklahoma.

Reviews & Praise
“Commitment. Leadership. Innovation. Loyalty. A dedication to others. A commitment to helping people find excellence not just on the playing field but in life. These are the qualities that define Bud Wilkinson and the University of Oklahoma and that are still at the heart of OU’s ongoing effort to prepare champions for life. John Scott gives readers a great gift by capturing the origins of OU’s DNA and the values of Sooner Magic.”—Joseph R. Castiglione Sr., Vice President / Director of Athletics, University of Oklahoma

“John Scott has a considerable talent for making his characters, both coaches and players, come alive. OU football devotees will find in these pages wonderful descriptions of their favorite heroes—Billy Vessels, Jack Mitchell, Darrell Royal, Wade Walker, Tommy McDonald, Prentice Gautt, Lance Rentzel, and Joe Don Looney, to name only a few. And the portrayals of coaches Gomer Jones, Port Robertson, Jim Tatum, Red Blaik, and Bear Bryant will captivate readers.”—David W. Levy, author of The University of Oklahoma: A History

“At OU, we build champions. In Bud Wilkinson and the Rise of Oklahoma Football, John Scott tells the exciting story of how Bud Wilkinson created the model for this mission in football and in life. It’s a page-turning tale of competition, character, and relationships.”—Keith Gåddie, author of OU Football IQ

Book Information
20 b&w illus.
376 Pages
Hardcover 978-0-8061-7554-6
e-pub 978-0-8061-7701-4
Published October 2021
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