Tahlequah Daily Press

June 21, 2013

Golloway’s exit closes interesting chapter in Sooner lore


— NORMAN — Some people.

Clearly, former Oklahoma baseball coach Sunny Golloway is one of them. Which is to say … actually, OK, I have no idea.

Isn’t that the thing?

Some people are just polarizing. And that may be only one of the interesting things about the entirety of Golloway’s tenure at Oklahoma.

Remember, this is the guy who left being Oral Roberts’ head coach after tremendous success to be Larry Cochell’s top assistant prior the 2004 season. And anybody who didn’t think Golloway returned to Cochell’s staff with every reason to believe he would eventually succeed Cochell was lying.

Then, after becoming OU’s interim head coach following Cochell’s mid-season resignation in 2005 (and going a very nice 12-6 over 18 games), everybody but Sooner AD Joe Castiglione figured the job would be Golloway’s in 2006.

Castiglione only finally pulled the trigger for Golloway after Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson accepted the job before give it back a few hours after his introductory press conference.

Incidentally, Stephenson is available. Wichita State just let him go. Which is kind of like Florida State getting tired of Bobby Bowden or Penn State axing Joe Paterno sans scandal.

Now Golloway has left what all believed to be his dream — in the same way the other side of Bedlam believes Mike Gundy and Josh Holliday have been awarded their dream jobs — for Auburn.

There is surprise but not shock. Which is a little bit shocking.

Many, many, many have taken to Twitter to wish Golloway a great ride in Auburn, thanking him for his time in Norman along the way.

Outgoing Sooner pitcher Dillon Overton is not one of them.

“thanks for being two faced the entire time I knew you. Lied to our whole team and never had any of our backs,” Overton typed in one of his tweets.

“I hope all the talking behind my back to my teammates comes back to you in some way,” he wrote in another.

Overton may have been the only one slamming his old coach. Max White and Caleb Bushyhead, among others, defended Golloway. But it’s not like Overton was shouted down by so many of his teammates.

The odd thing is how this is simply some people’s lot: inspiring loyalty from many and alienating others.

My favorite Golloway story, and it’s not much of one, came at the Wichita State Regional in 2001, where Golloway-led ORU took down Stephenson’s top-seeded Shockers.

Listening to Golloway afterward was kind of mesmerizing. He had all kinds of charisma, sounded like a winner, etc; kind of like the day Bob Stoops first said there would be no excuses.

I was sold.

Another time I interviewed him before the 2006 season began. He told me that as Stephenson was being named the new Sooner coach, it was looking like he might land at Wichita State.

He gave me so much more than I expected and forever after has seemed more of a tell-it-like-it-is coach than a coach-speak coach. Again, I left impressed.

And he won.

And his teams tended to play their best at the end of the season. And he was an NCAA regional regular, a super-regional semi-regular and he got the Sooners back to the College World Series in 2010.

And, maybe more impressive than getting back to Omaha was the simple fact that Golloway was very clear about success being measured by reaching Omaha, never trying to sell people too hard on the ladder steps along the way.

So much to like.

Yet he never won over everybody. For a few, perhaps more than a few, he was despised.

What happened?

Given total access, what would any of us think of Golloway? Was it all about him? Was it too much about him?

No idea.

He has nothing to apologize for.

That’s what postseason success and forty-win season after forty-win season can do for a guy.

But did he author (with help from Stephenson, Castiglione and some very good baseball teams) one of the stranger, odder and more inexplicable chapters in the history of the Sooner Nation.

You bet.

Some people.