Beyond Football: The Political Career of Bud Wilkinson (Part 2)

Part 2 of my look at Bud Wilkinson’s political career is up at Sport in American History. It’s based on some of my dissertation research and what I foresee to be the last chapter. There’s one more part coming in December.

Sport in American History

In the weeks following Bud Wilkinson’s resignation as head football coach at the University of Oklahoma and the announcement of his U.S. Senate campaign, John Cronley of The Oklahoman asked “For where do you go from Olympia?” Likening Wilkinson to the mythical Greek gods, Cronley eulogized Oklahoma’s “Golden Football Era.” The article was both forlorn and celebratory. Oklahomans knew Wilkinson was a rare talent, describing him as a “master of miracles and men.” He led them to the promised land and restored pride in the state. But, at only 47, his retirement seemed premature.

Cronley wondered if Wilkinson “was a victim of his own coaching greatness.” There was little left for him to accomplish on the gridiron. His teams won 14 conference championship and 3 national titles. They compiled massive winning streaks. He coached 36 first team All-Americans and a Heisman Trophy winner. In the process, Wilkinson became Oklahoma’s biggest…

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