Skip to comments.Mildren, ex-OU quarterback and lieutenant governor, dies at 58
Posted on 05/23/2008 3:44:47 PM PDT by fkabuckeyesrule
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jack Mildren, a former lieutenant governor and the first quarterback in the University of Oklahoma's vaunted wishbone offense, died on Thursday, his brother said. He was 58.
Mildren, who had been undergoing treatment for stomach cancer, died at Integris Baptist Medical Center, spokeswoman Brooke Cayot confirmed.
Mildren was diagnosed two years ago with cancer but had continued to serve as a vice chairman for Arvest Bank and host a daily sports radio show on WKY 930-AM.
Legislators at the state Capitol observed a moment of silence for the former lieutenant governor, who walked the halls there in the 1990s. He ran for governor in 1994 as the Democratic Party nominee but lost to Republican Frank Keating.
Mildren was the quarterback for Oklahoma's high-powered offense in 1971, when the Sooners set an NCAA record that still stands by averaging 472.4 rushing yards.
Mildren had arrived in Norman out of Cooper High School in Abilene, Texas, where he set passing records. But as a junior at OU in 1970, the Sooners got off to a sluggish start and coach Chuck Fairbanks switched to the wishbone offense.
The Sooners racked up 5,196 yards on 813 rushes that season, finishing 11-1 by defeating Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.
Oklahoma's only loss came in the so-called "Game of the Century," when top-ranked Nebraska beat the second-ranked Sooners 35-31 despite four touchdowns from Mildren -- two rushing and two passing.
Mildren finished the season with 1,289 yards rushing -- the most in school history for a quarterback -- and 20 touchdowns before being drafted by the Baltimore Colts.
Condolences to Mildren’s family and the OU family
Didnt realize he was so sick...for last season he was doing the Big XII weekly preview show on Fox Sports Net.
Mildren was the top HS prospect in the class of 1968. I remember SI did an article on his recruitment, which was rare, because hardly anyone covered recruiting back then.
As I recall, the first words out of Texas Coach Darrell Royal were “Well, Jack, is Texas in this”?
Texas ran a great wishbone but that 71 running game of OU was awesome: Mildren, Wiley, Crosswhite, Pruitt.
I am a Nebraska fan but those Okies that day were awsome.
Sad to hear of his passing and condolences to all Okies especially his family.
I remember that game. There were no losers.
“Jack Mildren was a great Q back for the Okies in 1971. I attended the “Game of the Century” and everyone in the stands that day knew that the last team with the ball for any amount of time would win the game.”
Shortly after the game, the OU defensive coach blamed himself for the loss saying that he should have gambled hitting Neb with all out blitzes. He said that either he would have stopped Neb or they would have scored quickly giving Mildren the ball with time to score again. As it was, he played conservatively hoping to run out the clock but Neb scored with too little time left for even Mildren to work his magic.
As awesome as Mildren was as the starting quaterback with the varisty, he was even more devastating in his freshman year on the freshman team. Mildren routinely hung fifty points or so on the other team by halftime. In one game, the OU freshmen were so unstopable on offense, the coaches sent the defensive team in to play offense. They still drove seventy yards to score.
Mildren was one of my favorite quarterbacks. I had the pleasure to see him play many times. My only regret was that I graduated before OU installed the ‘bone where he truly excelled.
Never in my 51 years has there been a college football season like 1971. After the first few weeks it was obvious the two best teams, Nebraska and Oklahoma, were so much better than everyone else that their Turkey Day showdown was all anyone talked about for two months. Tickets were being scalped for $2500, probably $15K in today’s money. Both clobbered eventual #3 Colorado (giving a 1,2,3 AP poll sweep to a single conference, the Big 8, also a first). Mildren wasn’t known as a passer but he was unbelievable that day. What a heart he had. He’ll be missed.
I chose to play for Nebraska a few years after the “Game of the Century”.
NU/OU games, generally on the friday following thanksgiving, were the greatest, with the toughest players—at least in my mind. Having grown up in southern Cal, I felt they made the USC/UCLA and the Pitt/Penn St. games look like half-speed scrimmages. No teams were tougher than NU and OU back then.
Gotta say, the OU teams from the mid-late 70’s had what I consider to be even better ‘bone teams. Imagine a backfield of Thomas Lott at QB, Elvis Peacock at one HB, Billy Sims at the other, and Kenny King at FB. With Greg Roberts and many other tremendous linemen blocking for them, they were a sight to see—and a team nearly impossible to beat.
Having seen that up close and personal, I can’t think of a better ‘bone team in history. But Miildren pulled the strings on one of the first of the best.
I bet if someone fired up the wishbone again, with tremendous, smart athletes at the helm, it would once again take a few years for teams to catch up to defensing it. A thing of beauty when it was run so smoothly.
“I did not know he was Lt. Gov.”
Apparently, playing for the Sooners is a great stepping stone toward politics in that state.
I knew Jack from my many business dealings with the state.
He always seemed in an upbeat mood.
He will be missed by his many admirers.
I listened to the game of the century by radio telephone while working on the North Slope of Alaska.
Everyone in the camp of 100 men had picked sides with the Texans pulling for Nebraska.
I remember we had runners who would go out to the field and give updates to those guys who couldn't get in to hear any part of the play by play.
It was really a great experience for a very young lad.
Thanks for the ping. May he rest in peace.
A true hero to a generation of kids here in Oklahoma; one of the good guys cut from the same cloth as Bud Wilkinson.
An unforgettable athlete, a gentleman and a scholar.
Link to the SI Article, at p. 108:
Looks like a few recruiting rules have changed. Heavy use of celebs, scoreboard/hotel signage . . . lol. Wow, no wonder the NCAA had to change a few things.
Very interesting article, regardless of a college FB fan’s age.
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