Former Sooners coach, and Strait, feted

Updated: February 10, 2004, 4:14 PM ET
Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- The night was meant to recognize college football's top defensive back, but the honoree shared the spotlight with a tribute to former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer.

Monday's Jim Thorpe Awards Banquet recognized Derrick Strait, who started in 53 games for Oklahoma, more than any player in team history.

Strait, who was introduced by current Sooners coach Bob Stoops, thanked various people for the honor, including Switzer for helping establish the school's rich sports heritage.

But he saved his biggest thanks for his mother, Brenda.

"I'm a strong person," Strait said to her. "Thanks for being strong for our family."

Former Oklahoma athletic director Donnie Duncan agreed to present Switzer the Lifetime Achievement Award, skipping out on his 42nd wedding anniversary Monday night.

Sally Duncan jokingly told her husband, "You love Barry more than me.

"Yes," said Donnie Duncan, "but I love you more than Billy [Tubbs]."

Duncan, now the Big 12 associate commissioner, spoke of the impact Switzer has made on others.

"He made an impression. He went into homes that had no hope and gave them hope. He lifted people," Duncan said.

At Duncan's request, two of Switzer's three children, Doug and Kathy, joined 1978 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims on stage.

Switzer spoke of love of his players, joy at beating Texas then and now, and how Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa had successful football seasons.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press