The legend of Buddy Hield continues to grow. After the Sooner senior torched the nets in Anaheim, leading OU to the Final Four, the Buddy bandwagon took on a bunch more passengers.
The guy who should win every national player of the year honor given out this season is already an OU legend.
So how much has Buddy’s amazing final season done for him in terms of all-time popularity with Sooner fans?
We live in an era of the “latest is the greatest.” Younger fans who live on social media don’t know much about Bud Wilkinson, the man who created the Sooners monstrous football program.
BUD wasn’t on Twitter, Instagram or Snap Chat. BUDDY is.
Here’s my take on the most popular Sooners. The criteria: impact on sport, personality and lasting legacy.
1. BARRY SWITZER
There’s a reason he’s called “The King.” Switzer won three national titles and his combination of confidence (borderline arrogance) and connection with Sooner fans still resonates today. Switzer will be topping this list for a long time.
2. WAYMAN TISDALE
The world lost this incredible soul way too early. Tisdale had a magical jumper and smile. He was the epitome of a kind, charismatic superstar. After hoops, Tisdale established himself as a great jazz artist.
3. BUDDY HIELD
I keep thinking this is way too high for Buddy. However, Hield has put himself in the same group with Tisdale, Alvan Adams and Blake Griffin as the greatest players in OU hoops history. And Buddy’s personality and charisma rivals Wayman’s.
Social media and Buddy being on TV seemingly a million times helps his rating.
It’s also strange to rank two hoops players this high, considering the enormous popularity of OU’s football program.
However, it’s easier for fans to get to know basketball players because of sheer numbers and their personalities are more much more visible, simply due to the difference in uniforms between hoops and football.
Still, it takes two special players and personalities to rank ahead of football stars, and Tisdale and Buddy both fit the bill.
4. BUD WILKINSON
Bud hasn’t been on the OU sideline in over fifty years, but his legacy stills looms large around Norman. Bud’s three national titles gave “Okies” still struggling with a dust bowl complex something to cheer for during tougher times. If this were just about legacy and class, Bud would be at the top of the list.
5. BOB STOOPS
Stoops resurrected the Sooner football program from the depths of despair and led OU to a national championship in his second season. Stoops can sometimes be short with the media, but is always gracious with fans and charities. Stoops has more wins than any other Sooner football coach. Enough said.
6. BAKER MAYFIELD
Again, this seems high. However, Mayfield’s play on the field has matched his popularity on social media. Sooner fans love his risk-taking toughness on the gridiron and his sheer fun with teammates away from the game.
Baker’s personality requires the limelight more the most other OU stars. Besides Billy Sims, every other Sooner Heisman winner has a pretty laid back persona.
Not that Baker’s won a Heisman, but you know what I mean – Mayfield gravitates to the spotlight.
Another ranking helped by the modern media age.
7. BILLY TUBBS
Tubbs brand of fast-paced hoops energized Lloyd Noble Arena and put Sooner hoops on the national map. OU fans loved his “Aw shucks, we kicked your a$$? Get better,” attitude. It vilified Billy with opposing teams and fans, and endeared him to his own.
8. THE BOZ
Switzer had competition for most popular Sooner in the eighties. And his name was Brian Bosworth. The Boz. A larger than life, comic book figure that was also a heckuva linebacker. Bosworth stole his script from professional wrestling and turned himself into the greatest character in Norman since Joe Don Looney. Bosworth’s positive steroid test, infamous NCAA t-shirt and other shenanigans still rankle some Sooner fans (and teammates) to this day. That’s why he’s in at number 8.
9. BILLY SIMS
This Sooner seventies sensation is still is the best OU running back to this day. Billy has a personality to match the style and flair he ran with back when the wishbone ruled the old Big 8 conference. I was a Norman teen when Sims was running wild. Believe me, Billy owned that campus.
10. THE SELMON BROTHERS
I know, it’s cheating. It just feels wrong not to have a Selmon on this list. And you can’t separate Lee Roy, Dewey and Lucious.
They’re too good. Too classy. And still the first family of Sooner football.
There are so many great names I left off this list! All great OU coaches and athletes.
Lon Kruger. Great guy, great coach is moving up and if OU cuts down the nets in Houston, he’s immediately in the top ten.
Sherri Coale and Patti Gasso deserve consideration. Joe Castiglione has done a remarkable job as an administrator.
What about Adrian Peterson? Steve Owens? Jason White? Sam Bradford? Jack Mildren? And all those great Bud era players?
It’s not an easy task.
Remember, this is about POPULARITY. This modern age of social media makes a HUGE difference.
So where did I go wrong?