Oklahoma football countdown: Fifty-three days to season kickoff

The anticipation is building for the start of another new Oklahoma football season, and we’re getting into the act by counting down the days until the opening kickoff of the 2021 season.

Over the next 53 days, the time remaining until the season-opening game at Tulane, will are highlighting interesting fact. figures and stories from Oklahoma seasons past and present.

T-minus 53 and counting…

Growing up as a youth in the 1950s, long considered the era that put Oklahoma football on the national map, the one name I always heard almost a much as any of the other great Sooner stars of that time was that of the player who wore jersey No. 53.

At a time in college football history when it was entirely common, almost expected, that a player would play on both sides of the ball — on offense and defense — Jerry Tubbs was not only a true gridiron warrior of his day, he was the ultimate winner.

Tubbs was one of the many Oklahoma football players who over the years have left their home state and crossed the Red River into enemy territory, pledging their allegiance to the Sooners.

Tubbs anchored the Oklahoma offensive line at the center position and then turned around to play in the middle of the defense at linebacker.

A unanimous Texas all-state selection in high school, where he played on two state championship teams, Tubbs never played on a losing team at Oklahoma. The Sooners were 31-0 in his three seasons at OU, including two national championship teams (1955 and ’56). That was also during the Sooners’ record 47-game winning streak.

His final two college seasons, in 1955-56, Tubbs was a consensus All-America selection at both center and linebacker, and in the 1956 season, he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. His teammate, Tommy McDonald, was the Heisman runner-up that year to Paul Hornung of Notre Dame.

Tubbs was selected in the first round of the 1957 NFL Draft, the 10th player taken overall, by the Chicago Cardinals. He played one and a half seasons in Chicago before being traded to the San Francisco 49ers. After the 1959 season, the former OU All-American was acquired by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960 NFL Expansion Draft.

Tubbs found a home with the Cowboys. He played eight seasons with Dallas as a player and 29 years overall with the Cowboys’ organization as a player, player-coach and full-time assistant to head coach Tom Landry.

In 1996, Tubbs was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Three years later, he was also enshrined in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

Tubbs died in 2012 at the age of 77, but his Oklahoma football legacy lives on.