Again – Chapter 25 – JohnA Passaro
If Marcus Dupree weighed 10 pounds less,
He would have outrun Arizona State’s defense
And scored two more touchdowns,
And we would have won the game.
After Marcus Dupree ran for 245 yards
In the first half in the 1983 Fiesta Bowl
The Best That Never Was.
ESPN’s 30 for 30
Marcus Dupree was the most sought after high school football player in the history of college football.
He was recruited by over one hundred college teams.
He was considered to be the best recruit ever, in any sport.
His talent was off of the charts.
He broke every yardage and touchdown record in the country.
Marcus Dupree chose Oklahoma to play college football.
He had a tremendous freshman season.
At the end of his freshman year, Marcus ran for 245 yards in the Fiesta Bowl.
In the first half.
That is a Fiesta Bowl rushing record that still stands to this day.
Let me repeat that… Marcus rushed for all 245 yards, in the first half of the game.
Due to injury, Marcus did not play in the second half of the game.
A game that Oklahoma wound up losing to Arizona State 32-31.
After the game, Marcus Dupree’s coach, Barry Switzer was pretty vocal about his feeling, stating that if Marcus were in shape, he would not have gotten hurt. He would have been able to run for 450 yards, break an all time college rushing record that would never be broken, and Oklahoma would have won the game.
After hearing from his friends what his coach was saying about him on national television, Marcus Dupree never really “played” for Coach Switzer… ever again.
Marcus was soon quoted as saying:
“I think that I will play this year, but it may be my last at Oklahoma. It’s just not fun.”
Marcus left Oklahoma in the middle of his sophomore year and never again approached the greatness that he showed on the field that day in the Fiesta Bowl.
To this day, Barry Switzer says that the way he handled Marcus Dupree is the biggest regret of his coaching career.
There is an older, out of shape gentleman being shown a vintage film of a young man playing high school football.
“Oh my god! Wooow, that boy is good!” exclaims the older man who is watching #22 dodge every tackle and run 98 yards for a touchdown.
Another barely audible, “Oh my god.”
“Who is this kid? Where is he from?” he rhetorically asks.
“I know it’s me, but it’s hard to believe I was doing all of this stuff.”
In the next scene of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary of Marcus Dupree, entitled “The Best That Never Was,” Marcus is walking on his old high school football field, looking up in the empty seats, visualizing who was in the crowd watching him play.
He says, “My mom enjoyed seeing me play more than anybody.”
A reporter asks him, “I thought Reggie was your biggest fan?”
Reggie was Marcus’s handicap younger brother.
Marcus breaks down in tears.
The reporter then asks, “Tell me what you are feeling?”
“That Reggie couldn’t play and run like I could, and then, just to think about the day the doctors told my mom there was nothing else they could do. And I told her I felt like I just hadn’t done enough. I just asked
her if I had made her proud. Did I do enough to make you proud?”
“That’s all I wanted to do was to make my momma and my brother proud.”
It is easy for the father of a wrestler pursuing greatness to be unapologetically demanding.
The key is to be relentlessly positive as well.
I have learned to be a dad first and a coach second.
I have become a better coach in silence than I ever was with constant words of instruction.
When you are pushing your son towards greatness, it is very easy to overlook all the hard work and dedication he has put into it.
To just point out what he needs to improve upon.
To constantly emphasize what needs to be done, instead of complimenting what has been done.
To take the fun out of it.
That would be a grave mistake.
Ask Barry Switzer.
I have learned that there are times when I need to be more proud than disappointed.
To rush for 245 yards in one half, in a bowl game – what an accomplishment.
It has never been done since.
“All I wanted to do was to make my momma and my brother proud.”
“Did I do enough to make you proud, momma?”