The unknown story of Mike Leach’s ‘lost’ OU play script

Editor’s note: This story was initially released in 2018.

Few rivalries in sports fuel as much hostility and pressure to win like college football’s yearly Red River Showdown in between Oklahoma and Texas.And through the

years, those monumental stakes have actually led to some serious skullduggery. The most noteworthy example was available in 1972, when the Sooners spied on Texas ‘practices, permitting them to obstruct a fast kick the Longhorns had covertly been dealing with en path to a victory.Now, thanks to Mike Leach, the 1999 game can formally

be contributed to that same legacy. 1 Related During pregame warm-ups of that year’s Red River Showdown, an

questionable script describing OU’s opening offensive plays was spotted on the field by one of Texas’trainee assistants, who scooped it up and took it to Longhorns defensive coordinator Carl Reese. To the greatly preferred Longhorns, it seemed as if they ‘d captured an enormous break.”We were trying to determine if it was genuine, “Reese said.” We were in this state of,’Can our company believe this?'”They shouldn’t have.It was a phony, part of a plot hatched by Leach, the Sooners’offensive organizer, and spoken with by the Longhorns, who quickly fell behind 17-0 before recognizing they ‘d been deceived. “That does seem like Mike,”stated former Texas coach Mack Brown, uninformed of the script at the time.”I do know this: Offensive organizers are so cautious with those scripts they would not be losing them. Those things are valuable. Only Mike would believe to lay one out there as a decoy. “In his 2011 book”Swing Your Sword, “Leach briefly pointed out the lark. But he never knew for sure just how seriously the Longhorns had taken it, how typically they ‘d referenced it or just how efficient it had been.He was elated to discover recently that they had actually succumbed to it so hard. “These things evolve and end up being somewhat legendary,”Leach said.Leading as much as the game, Leach didn’t inform OU coach Bob Stoops he was planting it, and Reese

didn’t notify Brown he had it. As a result, few people on either side knew of the decoy script’s existence. And yet, it nearly propelled the underdog Sooners, with Stoops in his very first year and OU coming off a 5-6 season, to a success.”That game may’ve been the most strange experience I ever had as a college football player,” said Ahmad Brooks, a starting defensive back for the Longhorns.”I can’t tell you how incorrect we were in the first three or 4 minutes with every playcall we had. I have actually never seen anything like it.

“It was complete pandemonium, and it was total confusion. “Reese lastly trashed the script, and Texas settled back into its strategy to rally and roll 38-28. However not prior to Leach released pandemonium upon the Longhorns for a quarter.”It was a good effort, “Leach stated.”However it would

even be more famous if we had won the sucker.”A decent effort, suitable for such a heated rivalry.” Yeah, it was kind of dubious,”said former OU tight end Trent Smith, whom Leach prepared to

“mistakenly” drop the sheet in front of the Texas coaches.

“But it’s OU-Texas. There are no guidelines. ” In his only Red River Face-off, Mike Leach, right, left a lasting memory for coaches on both sides. AP Photo/J. Pat Carter On the Wednesday night of game week, Leach was

with OU offending assistant Cale Gundy when the 2 began laughing about how funny it would be to produce a decoy script for the Longhorns.”You start out sort of joking around about it, “Leach stated.”And after that it’s like, ‘All right, screw it. Why not? Let’s do it.’Then

we had to consider stuff to put on it. “Leach didn’t wish to simply mess with Texas. He wanted to utilize the ploy to acquire an edge. So he took actual plays he had been preparing to call and started doctoring

up possible companions together with them.” To put it simply, with the fake playcall, we wished to match it,” he discussed.” We would run something that would hopefully attack the area that we developed by what they believed the play was gon na be. “For the decoy script, Leach began inputting plays the Sooners didn’t even have in their system. And he invented the terminology for them as he went along, balancing the line in between too complex to comprehend and too basic to be believable.ESPN’s College GameDay will be live at the Classic Corral from the State Fair of Texas in Dallas from 8-11

a.m. Central on Saturday.”It needed to appear like our terms,”Leach continued.” But Z-25 Jet, they may not know what the hell that implies, you know? But you didn’t wan na get busted, either. So it had to sound football-ish.”When he ‘d finished his masterpiece, Leach

put Gundy’s name at the top of it, as if it were Gundy’s copy of OU’s offensive play script. Then, he had it laminated to make it look authorities.

“That’s Mike,”Gundy said.” It was funny. “Outside of Gundy, Leach kept the rest of the coaching staff in the dark, including Stoops, who was getting ready for his very first Red River Showdown.”

I figured Bob had enough problems and we ‘d let Bob simply go on and deal with some Bob stuff, “Leach said.”It was truly me and Cale. You could not tell too many due to the fact that if you did, the cat would get outta the bag or you ‘d have too many guys looking suspicious.”

Next, Leach needed to figure out how to tempt Texas into taking the bait.During the 1999 season, Leach, Smith and fullback Seth Littrell had a little tradition during pregame warm-ups.” At that time, Coach Leach and me and Seth all dipped Copenhagen snuff,”Smith remembered.” I would constantly carry the can out on the field during pregame. So I remember [Leach] calling me over and requesting the can. We were all going to take a dip together and he resembled,’ All right, here’s the offer, guys … ‘describing this to me and Seth. I just remember how fired up he was about it. I got the feeling this was an overall rogue thing that he was doing on his own.

“However he was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be fantastic. This is going to be amusing. This is going to be epic. ‘”As Leach continued, Littrell and Smith grew just as excited. “I believed it was pretty creative, to be honest,”Littrell said. “Yeah, it was kind of shady, however it’s OU-Texas. There are no rules.”

Former Oklahoma tight end Trent Smith Leach then handed the script to Smith and purchased him to perform the

plant, which he did to excellence.

“He states,’I’m going to stroll off. I desire you to stand here for

a minute. Then, I want you to drop it right in front of their coaches over there and after that just keep running,”Smith stated.”It was sort of amazing. I act like I’m going to tuck this script in the belt on my trousers. I let it fall and simply kept running as though I believed I still had it.”It was eliminating me not

to look back and see if it had worked.”Off to the side, Leach kept the disposed of script within his peripheral vision. To his delight, he viewed as Texas student assistant Casey Horny picked it up.” The body language was remarkable. It was like enjoying a Muttley animation,” Leach said, referring to the atrocious 1960s pet dog who was the partner to Dick Dastardly. “They decided to offer it the Muttley snicker and after that increased the tunnel.” Previous OU fullback Seth Littrell, now head coach at North Texas, belonged to a small group of individuals who knew Leach’s plan. Elsa/Getty Images Back in the locker space, a

few of the Texas coaches, consisting of Reese, secondary coach Everett Withers and Tom Herman, just a graduate assistant that season, passed around the script, trying to determine what to make from it. “It was one of those offers where we were like,’No, this can’t be real,'”stated Withers, now head coach at Texas State.”But all of us sort of believed it was.” They ultimately decided not to go to Brown with it. Rather, Reese took the script with him up to journalism box. “That’s when I really looked it over and we talked a bit about it, “Reese said.”Everyone really believed it was the genuine deal.”Reese began tweaking his defensive calls to match the script. And it would not take long for that to backfire.

“I just keep in mind sitting in the huddle that first drive and type of giggling,” Littrell stated. “Like, they think they understand what we’re fixin ‘to do.”

The 2nd play of the script required something similar to a double-reverse pass. In response, the Longhorns brought Brooks on a nickel blitz with the goal of sacking the Sooners for a big loss.Instead, Leach snuck freshman receiver Antwone Savage behind the linebackers

on a shallow crossing path going the other instructions to the right. Quarterback Josh Heupel found him so

large open that Savage galloped untouched for a 44-yard goal.”We believed possibly we simply screwed the terminology up,” Herman said.So regardless of getting torched for

a goal in 2 plays, Texas didn’t right away quit on the script. In turn, its defense grew only more discombobulated.Reese was concerned about all the screens on the decoy script.

So when he otherwise would’ve brought pressure, he sat back, offering Heupel ample time to choose Texas apart. According to Withers, the Longhorns were likewise unsettled by all the wrinkles in the script they had not gotten ready for, such as backs going for passes out of the backfield

.”We were so concerned about it that we weren’t fretted about just doing our

task,”Withers said.” It mesmerized our attention, and it was probably the factor they were so effective in the very first quarter.”When the Sooners increased 17-0 simply 10 minutes

into the game, Reese finally scrapped the script. “It was tossed into the trash can,” he said. “At that point, you believed you ‘d been had. I simply got back to the fundamentals and started taking a look at what was truly going on and attempting to adapt to it. “That’s all the Longhorns actually required. They controlled the remainder of the way, choosing off Heupel 3 times, including as soon as by Brooks.” The thing you didn’t desire is those Longhorns simply activating at you full steam with no hesitation, “Leach stated.”Since they were quite subduing at that point.”

They indeed overpowered the Sooners to complete Texas’largest comeback in 34 years. The Longhorns held them to just another touchdown, which didn’t come till late in the 3rd quarter after Texas had actually constructed a 31-20 lead.”When it was all over with, I had an excellent laugh,”Reese stated. “Because it really was a good tactic, and it did a great job of messing us up for a while. “I discovered an excellent lesson there.” Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel tossed 44 -and 30-yard goal passes in the very first quarter before the Texas defense shifted gears. Andy Lyons/Getty Images After the game, the Texas assistants were suspicious that Leach had actually been the one to plant the decoy script. However they weren’t positive. “I had believed, based upon his reputation– I suggest that not adversely at all– however that it was

certainly something that he may do,” Herman said. “I don’t know that I ever got verification up until I spoke with somebody who was on the Oklahoma staff,

and they adamantly confirmed,’Oh yeah, that’s something he was working on all week.'”Brooks, on the other hand, stated he and his colleagues remained mystified regarding why their defense had looked so lost that first quarter.”The funny part is, I didn’t hear that story up until Tom told it a year ago,”he said. “The coaches never ever tipped

us off that had actually been discovered, so we had no concept.”It was a brilliant relocation by Mike Leach.”As for Leach, he ‘d never ever been told of Texas’

account of the occasion, either.”Was Herman there?” Leach asked, before being reminded Herman was an assistant then, after which he perked up. “Oh, so what did he say? I’ve never heard their side. What did he say occurred?” For Herman and the 8 other assistants or players in the game who would go on to end up being future head coaches, it was a valuable reminder that something that appears too great to be real probably is.”Hey man, they should not have been attempting to cheat,”said Littrell, now head coach at North Texas.”That’s why they got duped.”Knowing the fruits of his efforts, Leach obviously does not feel any embarassment. Just more pride.”Well,” Leach stated,”nobody said you needed to select it up and read it. “It’s like, listen closer in your Sunday school lessons, and it probably wouldn’t have come so easily for us.”

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