Wishbone
Oklahoma Football, 1959–1985
By Wann Smith, Foreword by Jay Wilkinson
$21.95 Paperback
$26.95 Hardcover

The Oklahoma Sooners dominated the world of college football during the 1950s. Under the leadership of Coach Bud Wilkinson, the team won three national titles and established an astounding record of forty-seven straight victories that still stands today. Yet by 1959, Wilkinson’s Sooners were showing signs of vulnerability, marking the start of a new and challenging era in Oklahoma football. Then along came a new offensive strategy, and OU began to dominate college football once again.

In Wishbone, veteran journalist Wann Smith provides an in-depth account of Sooner football from the team’s final years under Wilkinson through its remarkable turnaround under Coach Barry Switzer. At the heart of this story is the phenomenal success of the Wishbone offense—a hybrid offshoot of the Split-t formation that Wilkinson employed so successfully in the 1950s. Though not without its risks, the Wishbone offense changed the face of college football and was a key factor in Oklahoma’s resurgence in the 1970s with Switzer at the helm. Drawing on firsthand accounts from coaches, players, and university administrators, many never before published, Smith takes us behind the scenes during this exciting comeback period to reveal not just what happened but why and how it happened. And he brings to life the personalities who played pivotal roles in the team’s renewed success, including Jack Mildren, Greg Pruitt, Joe Washington, Billy Sims, and any, many others. Sooner fans, indeed all fans of college football, will relish this account of the remaking of a football powerhouse and its return to glory.


About The Author
Wann Smith, a freelance journalist and writer, began sports writing in 2001. He wrote for online publications The Pigskin Post and College Football News (a Fox Sports contributor) from 2001 through 2003 when he founded the College Football Gazette. He has served as a contributing writer to Sooners Illustrated magazine since 2005; over 50 of his monthly columns have been published in their periodical. Additionally, Smith is a member in good standing of the Football Writers Association of America.
Jay Wilkinson, son of University of Oklahoma coaching legend Bud Wilkinson, was a standout football player at Duke University. During his senior season in 1963, he earned All-American honors, was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, and finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. After graduation from Duke University in 1964, he chose to forego professional football, instead pursuing a divinity degree which he received from the Episcopal Theological School in 1967. After spending several years in public service, he worked in executive management in the financial services industry for 37 years. Recipient of the NCAA’s prestigious Silver Anniversary Award, Jay today is a noted motivational speaker. With four children and seven grandchildren, he and his wife Rita reside in Oklahoma City. He is the author of Bud Wilkinson: An Intimate Portrait of an American Legend.

Reviews & Praise
“I’ve read and enjoyed every word of this book. It’s a must-read for all Sooner fans.”—Barry Switzer, Former head football coach, University of Oklahoma

"Carefully researched and thoroughly documented, Wishbone is an insider's look at the events that made Oklahoma football the institution it has become. As a dedicated Sooner fan, I highly recommend this book."—Steve Owens, Heisman Trophy Winner

“Wann Smith has done a marvelous job in procuring such candid and accurate comments from so many former athletes and coaches.”—Coach Merv Johnson, Director of Football Operations, University of Oklahoma

“A captivating, behind-the-scenes look at the winningest college football program in modern times”—Joe Castiglione, Athletic Director, University of Oklahoma

“Comprehensive, accurate, and full of fascinating stories, Wishbone offers new information that will be a revelation even to former players.” —Dean Blevins, sportscaster for KWTV, the CBS affiliate in Oklahoma City

Book Information
29 b&w illus.
368 Pages
Paperback 978-0-8061-6289-8
Hardcover 978-0-8061-4217-3
Kindle 978-0-8061-8285-8
e-pub 978-0-8061-8286-5
Published December 2011
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