Oklahoma fans and former Oklahoma president David Boren recall the coaching tenure of John Blake as little more than a bad memory.
Success with Bob Stoops and now Lincoln Riley have elevated the Sooners back to their expected place among college football powers.
But the Sooners were downtrodden during Blake’s three-year tenure. Oklahoma was 12-22 during that span. Included was a 3-8 record with Blake’s debut team in 1996.
Some might wonder why the Sooners stuck with him after that struggling start. Boren has an explanation why.
Boren told the Daily Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel that Blake’s lack of organizational skills doomed him but that the university tried to help.
Despite arriving with the reputation as a dominant recruiter, Blake never could translate that ability into football success. The reason, Boren tells Tramel, could be seen as Blake attempted to build his program.
“After he got here, I attempted to work with him,” Boren said. “My impression of him was that he meant well, that he was a sincere person, he probably had moral scruples and so on and so forth. He just was not well organized. We did everything to try to help him get more organized.”
David Boren wanted stability in Oklahoma program
But after firing Howard Schnellenberger after only a year at the job, Boren wanted to bolster Oklahoma’s reputation for patience with its coaches.
It became clear that Blake couldn’t succeed. And it became even more clear to Boren after Joe Castiglione was hired as Oklahoma’s athletic director.
Boren contends that Blake was getting advice from the late famed attorney Johnnie Cochran. And Blake wasn’t willing to resign after his struggling third season.
Boren said he could sense that Blake was going to sue his alma mater, saying that he wasn’t receiving an equal opportunity — even after three seasons without a winning record.
Still, Boren and the university let him go in 1998, and the former Oklahoma president said he knows they made the right decision, especially after seeing how Stoops and Riley have run the program.
And any bad feelings about the departure should have been blotted away by now.