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Old 11-03-2020, 10:57 PM   #1
Sooner04
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Post The Great Billy Tubbs

What do you say about a person who was singularly responsible for a sporting love so near and dear to your heart? I LOVE Oklahoma Basketball, and the reason I love Oklahoma Basketball is because Billy Tubbs came to Norman two years before I was born. Sure, Wayman was the star, but all roads lead to Billy Tubbs. I never want to sell Dave Bliss short because that 1979 team is cherished by those who were lucky enough to see it, but Billy Tubbs took a moribund program in a backwater outpost of a conference and made national waves.

My earliest memories are from inside the Lloyd Noble Center. I learned everything I needed to know about multiplication and pace and averages from my seat on the lower east side. I still do the math in my head at the 10:00 mark of each half, even if the calculations are much easier now than they were when the home team already had 40 points when the horn sounded for the under-8 TV timeout.

Okies are a different lot. I married a Texan and she's lived here now for nearly 20 years and she still doesn't understand us. Even though he was born in St. Louis, Billy Tubbs was an Okie, and that fact helped him thrive at Oklahoma. He spoke his mind and told you what he thought regardless of whether you were inclined to hear it. In a way, he was the worst thing that could've ever happened to Oklahoma Basketball because he curated a rabid fanbase that thought his way was the only the game could be played. Today, you're not going to see anything out of the ordinary when UTSA comes to town on a Tuesday night. But back then? You had to be present because there was a legitimate chance history could be made. Look out Centenary. Heads up, US International. Run for cover, Loyola Marymount.

In Ted Owens' last trip to Norman as the head coach at Kansas, the Jayhawks won the opening round of the Big 8 Tournament inside the LNC. They cut down the nets. Don't forget that. The saintly Jayhawks cut down our nets. We returned the favor in Lawrence a year later and every turtle-necked beaker within a 100 miles of Allen Fieldhouse wanted blood. Forget all that for a moment and ponder this: after that loss to Teddy O in March of 1983, the Sooners won 108 of their next 110 games inside the Lloyd Noble Center. For years there was a quote in OU press guides from Dick Vitale who stated that, without a doubt, the toughest place to play in America was the home floor of the Oklahoma Sooners. From nothing; from 9-18 in 1981 to a juggernaut on the south plains. Players came and players went, but there on the sideline for all of it was a gambler named Billy in a double-breasted suit.

We'll never have it that good again. We'll never have the sport to ourselves now that the NBA is in town. We'll never have a coach that far ahead of the curve. We'll never have access to that kind of talent again. It was a perfect storm, and I think we should all be thankful that we can access it in our memory banks. Back then, you could have Wayman for three years. Back then you could make the Final Four and bring Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock back for another shot at glory. Back then the next JUCO stud might be a ten-year NBA player. Back then is never coming back around, but it's up to us to carry the torch about Billy Tubbs and the wonderful standard he set. The scores may look like make believe, but they actually happened. Dayton did score 99 and lost by 52. Oral Roberts once scored 122 and lost by 30. Loyola Marymount once scored 112 and lost by SIXTY!

The stories are endless, but it's worth noting that Pat Tubbs lost a husband. Taylor and Tommy lost a Dad. My grief is different than theirs, and it's certainly nowhere near as deep, but it's still a profound sadness. I think back on those days with a smile: sitting with people who are no longer here, surrounded by others with whom a relationship is now different. It's just a reminder that America truly is an army of steamrollers and that time is relentless in its march. We should all strive to make something of ourselves like Billy Tubbs did. Essentially orphaned at 14, plugging along through Tulsa Central. Lon Morris JC. Lamar. Score 100, baby. Sweet 16 and then off to Norman. What a guy. What a life.

Here's to Billy. Here's to Wayman. Here's to Choo and T-Mac and DJ. Here's to Ricky, Mookie, Harvey, Stacey and Dave. Here's to the Creator and the Helicopter. Here's to Skeeter and Ski. Here's to looking up at the ten-minute mark, seeing 32 points for the good guys and elbowing my Dad, "Hey! We're on pace to score 128!"

Thank you, Billy. Thank you for everything. Thank you for the most cherished memories of my youth sporting fandom.

And screw you, Danny Manning.


Thank you for your time.
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Old 11-04-2020, 07:28 AM   #2
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Applause!
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Old 11-04-2020, 07:36 AM   #3
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The Billy Tubbs reunion special, parts one and two, will be shown tomorrow night on Fox Sports Oklahoma. If you've never seen it before, you don't want to miss it.
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Old 11-04-2020, 08:30 AM   #4
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Beautifully written, '04.
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Old 11-04-2020, 08:37 AM   #5
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Thanks for the memories, O4!

Beautifully said as only you can do!
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Old 11-04-2020, 10:43 AM   #6
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Great writing as usual, 04!

One of my regrets as a sports fan was not following Billy Tubbs coaching career after he left OU. I wasn't rooting against him, just indifferent I guess. At the time, I acted as if he deserted OU and was no longer "one of us". I was too naive to understand what was going on behind closed doors. After 10 years, Billy had OU at the the top. OU was all set to be the preseason #2 team in the 1990-91 season (behind UNLV) - and the walls came down with changes to academic standards. Players becoming academically ineligible followed and all the momentum was gone. It should have become apparent to me that he burned out...I just didn't see it that way 26 years ago.

As the years went on, I noticed a trend with a lot of coaches who built great basketball programs in football schools - they became a victim of their own success. You can even include Kelvin Sampson in that, along with Rick Barnes, Thad Mottta , Bobby Cremins (though GT not a true football school), and even Billy Donovan could not sustain the success they had in the prime of their careers. Billy certainly was in some great company.

Not that it mattered to anyone but me, but I wish I had been more fair with my expectations of Coach Tubbs. What's interesting is that his tenure at TCU was not considered to be successful - yet he never had a losing season there in 8 years. How many coaches would have been able to pull that off?

Anyway, my former insensitivity aside, I always proudly remembered what Coach Tubbs accomplished throughout his coaching career, especially at OU. Thanks for the memories, Coach!
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Old 11-04-2020, 10:55 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Great Billy Tubbs

Quote:
Originally Posted by MsProudSooner View Post
The Billy Tubbs reunion special, parts one and two, will be shown tomorrow night on Fox Sports Oklahoma. If you've never seen it before, you don't want to miss it.
I just checked...I've got OU/TT fball replay....is this for Nov 4th?
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Old 11-04-2020, 10:57 AM   #8
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excellent write up...I was in college when Wayman played...actually went to kstate for a yr...went to the OU/ksu game in ol ahearn just to see him.

Lived in the heart of ku territory in '88....man hated that night.

It was a great time to be an OU bball fan...

BOOMER!
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Old 11-04-2020, 11:10 AM   #9
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Default Re: The Great Billy Tubbs

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Originally Posted by MsProudSooner View Post
The Billy Tubbs reunion special, parts one and two, will be shown tomorrow night on Fox Sports Oklahoma. If you've never seen it before, you don't want to miss it.
It's also up for viewing on Soonersports.com.
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Old 11-04-2020, 11:25 AM   #10
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I just checked...I've got OU/TT fball replay....is this for Nov 4th?

Tonight is the football replay while tomorrow is the Billy Tubbs special.
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Old 11-04-2020, 01:22 PM   #11
Soonerinkc
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Tonight is the football replay while tomorrow is the Billy Tubbs special.
lol..my readin comprehension....is...not good. Election and covid got me
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Old 11-04-2020, 04:25 PM   #12
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Bravo, 04
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Old 11-04-2020, 08:39 PM   #13
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Default Re: The Great Billy Tubbs

Great post. I grew up during the Tubbs era and inspired my unathletic attempt at hs bb. Went to his bb camp in the mid to late 80's and loved every minute of it. He will be missed. I've missed hearing him call some of games in the last few years. It makes sense now. RIP coach.
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Old 11-06-2020, 07:45 AM   #14
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Default Re: The Great Billy Tubbs

I rewatched the reunion special last night on FSN-OK. That was a lot of fun. It also reminded me that he built a great program despite never being a "darling" of ESPN, which wielded a ton of clout in the college basketball world. Much like how it's been in college football in the last 15-20 years, where ESPN has pretty much done the recruiting for the SEC, OU had to battle the "Big East worship" (which, to be fair, also harmed schools west of the Mississippi, excluding their beloved Arizona and Kansas).

The teams like OU, Houston, UNLV and for a time, Loyola Marymount, were scorned often as teams that weren't well coached. I always hated that. That meant as an OU alum that I enjoyed wins over teams that were really boring. Of course, Billy didn't care about that false "just rolled out the ball" image. I think he even mocked it a few times.

Basketball is supposed to be fun. And Billy's teams were just that.
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Old 11-06-2020, 08:47 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by MsProudSooner View Post
The Billy Tubbs reunion special, parts one and two, will be shown tomorrow night on Fox Sports Oklahoma. If you've never seen it before, you don't want to miss it.
I watched the reunion special last night and it was well worth my time. If you’re a Billy Tubbs and Billy Ball fan, don’t miss it!

Great memories galore featuring dozens of former players and people you’ll recognize. Ed Hightower was there, too. He was very gracious in his praise of Billy. And, Billy, as usual, was his witty, funny self.

There will be several more opportunities to see it on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

Thanks for the heads up, MsProudSooner!
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Old 11-06-2020, 12:11 PM   #16
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I watched the reunion special last night and it was well worth my time. If you’re a Billy Tubbs and Billy Ball fan, don’t miss it!

Great memories galore featuring dozens of former players and people you’ll recognize. Ed Hightower was there, too. He was very gracious in his praise of Billy. And, Billy, as usual, was his witty, funny self.

There will be several more opportunities to see it on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

Thanks for the heads up, MsProudSooner!
yup....I post on my FB page to my ku friends why OU cut the nets down in Lawrence...ku cut the nets down in Norman...lol
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