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The more things change, the more they stay the same

Having won a 34th consecutive game by only 22 points, Hall of Fame coach Bud Wilkinson had had it up to here with these entitled Oklahoma fans.

By many standards of measure, Bud Wilkinson is the most successful coach in college football history -- or at least of his era. 

After spending the 1946 season as an OU assistant, Wilkinson was promoted to head coach the following year, in 1947. The first time he didn't win the Big 8 title: 1960.

In 17 seasons as a head coach, Wilkinson won 14 conference championships and three national titles. His 1954-57 seasons set the FBS record with 47 consecutive wins, a streak that will never be broken. He finished in the AP top-10 13 times. Among coaches with at least 145 victories, his .826 winning percentage is sixth all-time. 

And even he had to hear it from a bunch of grumbling, unappreciative fans.

Thanks to OU senior associate AD Kenny Mossman, we have a copy of the Oct. 23, 1956 edition of the newsletter he wrote exclusive to Sooners boosters.

It begins:

"Dear Sooner--

We are very pleased to defeat Kansas Saturday 34-12. Unfortunately, a few Oklahoma fans seem disappointed that we did not win by a larger score.

Frankly, all of us closely connected with our squad are always pleased to win any game by one point. Kansas is a very good college football team. They have fine personnel and are extremely well coached."

Damn, if that's not the exact same lecture many a coach will give his own fan base this fall. In fact, if I'm Lincoln Riley, I might just print the thing out and recite those paragraphs verbatim after an unsatisfactory 22-point victory. 

(Another "the more things change..." data point is this newsletter's very existence. Even in 1956, when the average American had access to television, radio and newspaper to follow their team, the true college football fan knew you had to fork over a little extra to get the real scoop.) 

Wilkinson continued:

"When a team is fortunate enough to win several games consecutively, some of its followers sometimes lose their sense of perspective and are not satisfied unless every opponent on the schedule is defeated by a truly big score. Such an attitude is bad for the game. The purpose of competition is to test yourself, not to embarrass your opponent."

OU newsletter

Some context may be in order here. The 1956 Sooners were the defending national champions and the undisputed No. 1 team in the country. Undefeated and untied since Oct. 10, 1953, the KU game was No. 34 in their path to the record 47. OU opened 1956 with a 36-0 win over North Carolina, a 66-0 drubbing of Kansas State, and a 45-0 blanking of Texas. Oklahoma had also taken eight in a row over Kansas, and won the three most recent by scores of 45-0, 65-0, and 44-6.

And, still, Bud could not get these entitled freeloaders to give him even a week's worth of benefit of the doubt. 

(One thing that has changed? Look at those passing numbers. Kansas completed four of its 10 passes -- two to each team.)

Sixty-five years later, the Sabans, Swinneys, Rileys and Days of the world are still dancing to the same tune Wilkinson sung way back then.

Of course, this wasn't a new development in college football even in 1956. Were he still alive at that time, Wilkinson would get a "join the club, Bud" nod from Dave Allerdice, who went 33-7 in his four season as the head coach at Texas but quit because of the "super critical nature of the Texas fans." 

Allerdice walked away in 1915.