Bud Wilkinson - Former - Go Sooners Go

Bud Wilkinson

The man who really did start the "Tradition"

Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson was the trailblazer who set the OU football program on its path to glory. A native of Minnesota, he had enjoyed a successful playing career with the University of Minnesota, playing offensive lineman and quarterback for three national champions while a member of the Golden Gophers.
It was at the conclusion of WW II, where he served in the U.S. Navy, that he accepted an invitation from Sooner head coach Jim Tatum to join his staff in Norman as an assistant coach. The following year, Tatum left Oklahoma to accept the reigns at Maryland, and the 31 year old Wilkinson was name both Head Coach of the football team AND the school's AD. Quite a chore for a young man. Wilkinson proved up to the challenge, and in his first season at the helm, Oklahoma won the first of 13 consecutive Big 8 Conference titles. Just as impressive is this fact - from 1947 to 1963, the Wilkinson-led Sooners posted a winning percentage of .826!
Here's some other outstanding facts about the Bud Wilkinson era -

Upon retiring from the Sooners program after the 1963 season, Charles B. Wilkinson legally changed his name to the more recognized "Bud", and ran as the Republican nominee for the U. S. Senate race in 1964. Unfortunately, he fell far short of victory, due to the LBJ landslide that year. On the positive side, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1969.
Wilkinson came out of retirement in 1978, taking the reigns of the then-St. Louis Cardinals. In two seasons, he posted a 9-20 record, and at the end of the 1979 season, he was terminated by team owner Bill Bidwell. In the years to come, he settled in the St. Louis area, doing periodic analyst work for ABC and ESPN in their coverage of college football. In 1986, he was bestowed membership in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame. On February 9, 1994, he died of congestive heart failure at age 78.