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Aide Is Given Switzer's Job at Oklahoma

June 21, 1989|Associated Press

NORMAN, Okla. — Gary Gibbs, a player and then a defensive coordinator under Barry Switzer, was designated to succeed Switzer as Oklahoma's football coach Tuesday.

Gibbs, winning the recommendation of the school's interim president and its athletic director, said he would remove the cloud that has hovered over the scandal-plagued football program by "doing it right."

"We've got to remove that cloud, that uncertainty of 'What's going on down there? Who's in control?' " Gibbs said. "We're a bunch of good guys. All we've got to do is the right thing."

Gibbs' appointment must be approved by the university's regents, who will meet today. Switzer, who coached Oklahoma to three national championships and 12 Big Eight Conference titles, quit Monday.

Gibbs would be the third alumnus to hold the job. His only college experience--as a player and as an assistant coach--has come at Oklahoma. Switzer had recommended that his successor come from the school.

"But I want to tell you that even if we had conducted a national search for our new coach, rather that promote from within, I do not believe we could have found a better person for the job," said David Swank, the school's interim president. "Gary Gibbs is one of the outstanding young coaches in the country."

Gibbs, 36, was recommended over two other assistant coaches--Merv Johnson, 53, and Jim Donnan, 34.

"OU has a history of young coaches rising to the top," Athletic Director Donnie Duncan said. "In the years to come, you'll understand why I made the recommendation to name Gary Gibbs as head football coach."

Switzer was 35 when he became head coach in 1973. Chuck Fairbanks, whom Switzer succeeded, became head coach in 1967 at 33.

Switzer became coach while Oklahoma was serving a two-year probation imposed by the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. He leaves the program in the first year of a three-year probation, mostly for recruiting violations.

Then, five players were charged with felonies involving drugs, guns and sexual assault in a two-month period after the probation was handed down in December.

The state's three largest newspapers and the 1949 Oklahoma football team had called for new leadership. Duncan said he was satisfied that promoting from within would give Oklahoma a clean start.

"Gary Gibbs is an ideal person that anyone would want representing him," Duncan said.

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