Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Barry Switzer (born October 5, 1937 in Crossett, Arkansas) is a former American football coach, in the college and professional ranks, between 1962 and 1997. He has one of the highest winning percentages of any college football coach in history, and is one of only two head coaches to win both a college football national championship and a Super Bowl.
Switzer was the son of a bootlegger and money-lender who spent time in prison for his activities. Switzer, however, saw other avenues open for him as a star on the local high school football team, and earned a scholarship to the University of Arkansas. He played four years for coach Frank Broyles, did a brief stint in the U.S. Army and then returned to Arkansas as a coach.
Switzer spent two years at his alma mater, coaching among others, future rival Jimmy Johnson and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. In 1966, he moved to the University of Oklahoma as an assistant coach and spent nine seasons in that capacity. By 1971, he was the team's offensive coordinator as the team set NCAA team rushing records that still stand today.
He became head coach at Oklahoma in 1973, leading the team to undefeated seasons that year (10-0-1) and the next, when the Sooners went 11-0 and won the national championship. They repeated as champs in 1975, winning 11 games against just one defeat. His teams won or shared the Big Eight Conference title every year between 1973 and 1980, included 1978 Heisman winner Billy Sims and played for another championship in 1977, but lost.
Oklahoma slumped slightly in the early 1980s, but rebounded with another conference title in 1984, when the Sooners again played for the national title and lost. They won it the next year, going 11-1 and upsetting top-ranked Penn State in the Orange Bowl. The next two years, they posted the same record but finished ranked third in the final polls both seasons.
Switzer resigned from his coaching position at Oklahoma early in 1989, with a career record of 157-29-4. His winning percentage of .837 is fourth-best all-time, and he posted remarkable records against several famous contemporaries, going 3-0-1 against Darrell Royal, 12-5 against Tom Osborne, 5-3 against Jimmy Johnson, 2-0 against Bobby Bowden and 1-0 against Joe Paterno and Woody Hayes.
On the other hand, his teams were racked by frequent scandals and placed on NCAA probation twice, and Switzer was frequently accused of lax discipline on his teams. It was a series of brushes with the law by his players following the 1988 season that helped end his career at Oklahoma.
He resurfaced in coaching in 1994 with the Dallas Cowboys, now owned by his former player and longtime friend Jones. He was successful with the Cowboys, going 13-5 his first season and 15-4 in his second, when Dallas won Super Bowl XXX over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17.
Switzer was unable to halt the team's decline from age and free agency following the Super Bowl, and was again accused of lax discipline by some of his players, most notably quarterback Troy Aikman. The Cowboys won their division in 1996, but had a losing season the next year. Switzer resigned as Cowboys' coach with a 45-26 career NFL coaching record.
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