Beyond Football: The Political Career of Bud Wilkinson (part 1)

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Sport in American History blog. It’s based on some of my dissertation research and what I foresee to be my last chapter. I’ll be posting  one or two more parts later this fall.

Sport in American History

On Saturday, November 23, 1963, Oklahoma and Nebraska were schedule to meet in Lincoln. It was an important game in the Big 8 standings. The Sooners were 7-1 going into the game, 5-0 in conference play. Their only loss that season was to Darrell Royal and a pesky Texas team that seemed to always have Oklahoma’s number.

Nebraska had a good team. They were 8-1 and undefeated heading into their last conference game. Their only loss came against a tough Air Force team. The matchup between the Sooners and Cornhuskers would decide the conference championship.

The Sooners were confident before the game, though Coach Bud Wilkinson, as he did every week, praised the opponent and suggested they might be the better team. Oklahomans knew the truth. In his 16 years at OU, Wilkinson’s Sooners had only lost to Nebraska twice. Oklahoma was the one, true Big Red.

The team flew to…

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