On Friday, 20 years will have passed since Barry Switzer resigned as Oklahoma's coach. Few programs have soared to the heights of Switzer's Sooners, who were 157-29-4 and won three national championships in 16 seasons.
But from Dec. 19, 1988, to Feb. 13, 1989, the program was rocked by an NCAA probation, a player shooting a teammate and two players involved in a rape.
Then came Charles Thompson, the starting quarterback, getting busted for selling 17 grams of cocaine to an undercover FBI agent. Thompson made the cover of the Feb. 27, 1989 issue of Sports Illustrated, handcuffed and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit.
Switzer fought to keep his job, but on June 19, 1989, he resigned.
Even with the mess he left behind, Switzer figured to be a slam dunk for the College Football Hall of Fame. There was a three-year waiting period and he would easily be elected on the first ballot, correct?
It didn't happen. The hall doors remained shut by the Honors Committee — 12 members who selected members.
That might still be the case had Gene Smith, the only African American member of the committee, not made an impassioned speech on behalf of Switzer, according to the Tulsa World. Smith, the former Arizona State and current Ohio State athletic director, changed voters' minds and Switzer was inducted in 2002.
As for Thompson, he has turned his life around after serving 17 months in prison. He's a businessman and motivational speaker based in Oklahoma City. Thompson, 41, is married and has four kids.
"I try to let kids know that are in that situation where they might be good at sports or have a lot of positive things going for them, how quickly things can be turned around for you if you don’t make the right decisions and you’re making poor choices," Thompson said.
"That's the theme of my message. It's about living the life that you've worked hard and dreamed of living, but understanding that that life can be taken away from you at any moment if you don't make the right choices. Mine was very indicative and put out there because of the cover of Sports Illustrated."