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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Schnellenberger Calls It Quits After Dismal 1st Season At Oklahoma, Veteran Coach Unexpectedly Resigns

Associated Press

Howard Schnellenberger resigned abruptly Monday, ending a one-year stay as football coach at Oklahoma that started with high expectations but dissolved into an ugly 5-5-1 season.

Schnellenberger made his announcement in a statement issued by the school. No news conference was held, and none was planned.

“I felt we made significant progress on many fronts, both on and off the field, that will serve this program for many years to come,” said Schnellenberger, 61.

“But in recent months, a climate has developed toward the program, understandably in some cases and perhaps unfairly in others, that has changed my outlook… . A change could help improve that climate.”

University president David Boren said Schnellenberger’s decision was voluntary, and neither he, athletic director Donnie Duncan nor the school regents had made an issue of the poor season.

“My decision has nothing to do with any rules problems, because we have been diligent in adhering to the rules … throughout our career,” Schnellenberger said.

Only hours after the announcement, Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer, who coached at Oklahoma until vacating the position in 1989, was contacted about the job. But after talking with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Switzer said he prefered to remain with the NFL team.

Switzer did, however, reiterate his support for Cowboys defensive line coach John Blake. Blake, a former Oklahoma player, was Switzer’s choice for the post a year ago.

Schnellenberger was hired Dec. 16, 1994, after coaching 10 years at Louisville after five (with one national champion) at Miami, signing a five-year deal with a base salary of $125,000. The total package, including revenue from television shows and other perks, was reportedly worth close to $500,000 annually.

The new coach’s outgoing personality was a welcome change from his predecessor, Gary Gibbs, and helped revive fan interest.

Interest heightened when the Sooners won their first three games and reached No. 10 in The Associated Press poll. They followed with a sellout against Colorado - Oklahoma’s first home sellout since 1989 - but lost by 21 to start the season-ending swoon.

Lowest point was a 12-0 loss to Oklahoma State, the first loss to its in-state rival since 1976.