For Immediate Release
September 6, 2002
NEW ADDITIONS OU FOOTBALL MURAL AT SWITZER CENTER
NORMAN, Okla. -- For over four and a half years, visitors to the Barry Switzer Center at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on the University of Oklahoma’s campus have been greeted in the Legends Lobby by a mural highlighting the Sooner football tradition.
Today, there is a new look to the colorful 33' x 9'6" mural that will be startlingly obvious to past visitors.
When the original mural was installed on December 30, 1998, the Switzer Center was still under construction and nearing completion; the building dedication was four months away; Bob Stoops was a month away from being hired as Oklahoma's 21st head football coach; Josh Heupel had never set foot on the OU campus; Rocky Calmus had just finished a stellar freshman year at linebacker for the Sooners; and Roy Williams, a true freshman at OU, had just received a medical hardship following a back injury to regain a year of eligibility.
Just two years later, Oklahoma won its seventh national championship following an undefeated 13-0 season; Stoops was named national Coach of the Year; Heupel was the 2000 Heisman Trophy runner-up; Calmus, a 2000 consensus All-America, was well on his way to earning that distinction again plus the 2001 Dick Butkus Award; and Williams was on the verge of becoming a consensus All-America and copping both the Jim Thorpe and Bronco Nagurski awards following the 2001 season.
Today all four of the recent Sooner football notables have joined past OU heroes and icons in the mural montage that features the elite from Oklahoma's storied football history.
But how is that possible? Isn't a mural done when it's done?
"Not to me," chuckles OU muralist Ted Watts, the famed sports artist from Oswego, Kansas. "I did not paint the entire mural all over, again - as you might think. How I did it, well, that is a secret with me and I am not going to tell you how I did it. Just enjoy what you see. I do."
Joking aside, Watts shared that he blended his fine arts painting skills and muralists’ training with a bit of 21st century technology - just as he had done with the original mural - to bring about the modifications and additions of four new figures to the composition.
Besides the four contemporary Sooner football personalities, there are other additions and slight "adjustments that may be unnoticeable" to most viewers, Watts says. The 2000 Sears Trophy and championship ring were added to a grouping of trophies in the art. The 2000 year date was added to the championship stadium sign. The Nagurski Trophy has been added along with modifications to the interlocking OU logo throughout the art.
According to Joe Castiglione, athletics director at OU, the changes were necessary - coming so soon after the completion of the original mural project - but they will be the last. Future accomplishments will be addressed as they present themselves.
"The noteworthy start of the Bob Stoops era seemed to be a natural ending point for the mural art. We knew that Ted could handle it for us," he said. "What we now have in place effectively ties the Sooners of today with our history of accomplishments in football at the University of Oklahoma."