Sooner Legend Josh Heupel: Author of the New Era for OU!

Scott CollierContributor IJune 5, 2009

Early Spring in Aberdeen South Dakota 1978, who knew that the return of The University of Oklahoma to national prominence started way back then in small town America. 

Josh Heupel was born in March of 1978 in the middle of a blizzard, the trip home from the hospital was so tough that his father Ken had to walk him home the last quarter mile as his mother Cindy followed behind on a snowmobile that Easter Sunday Morning. 

This was obviously a preface to Josh's life as nothing would come easy, in and out of hospitals through the age of four due to ear problems. When his hands would constantly shake at a young age his mother took him to a hospital only to find out that Josh was just trying to do such advanced things that his body couldn't keep up. 

Josh was walking at eight months and running at 10 months. He was always doing things that he probably shouldn't have been able to do. So when people ask his parents how he eventually led The University of Oklahoma to a national championship in 2000, I am sure it is easy to explain.

Hard work has always been a staple of the Heupel household, from Ken's coaching career to Josh's beginnings at a local car wash in middle school when his father felt he needed to learn responsibility a little better. 

Ken knew that Josh would have to work hard to be successful, not because Josh necessarily lacked the ability but because that's how you do things the right way while looking for success.

Josh quickly became a standout Quarterback in high school, and when it came time to pick a college, Josh chose Division 1-AA Weber State over several Division II, III, and NAIA offers. 

It was obvious that Josh would have a better chance of playing at the smaller schools but he wanted to challenge himself just as his father had taught him, just as he had come into the world.

When Josh found out that Weber State was accepting a UCLA transfer, Steve Buck, who had beaten out Cade McNown before breaking his hand Josh didn't retreat, he got the keys to the weight room.  

Unfortunately in the Spring game that year Josh tore his ACL and while he would work his way back to being the Weber St quarterback, following that season his coaching staff left, the new staff brought in a new offense which ultimately left his future up in the air. 

After mulling over different offers, Josh transferred to Snow Junior College, a small school with a passing offense. 

Even with the transfer Josh had to earn the job and beat out Fred Salanoa, who had previously been an All American at Snow before attempting to transfer to Hawaii, when that didn't work out he came back to Snow. 

Surprisingly Fred and Josh became the best of friends and fed off of each other, Josh eventually won the job and led Snow to a 8-2 record and a Junior College Bowl victory over rival Dixie Utah.

Following the season Josh had done enough to earn some offers on the Division-I level,  eventually picking old Powerhouse Oklahoma and their scuffling program over New Mexico and Utah St. 

Who knew what would eventually transpire at OU, a hot young new Coach Bob Stoops and a JUCO Quarterback that very few had heard of would lead OU back to prominence in just two short years.

Coming off of five-straight seasons without a winning record and mediocre success for the six seasons prior to that by Oklahoma standards, Josh would quickly lead OU to a 7-5 record and a last second bowl game loss to Ole Miss under the tutelage of Mike Leach and Coach Stoops in his first season.

The following year, Heupel would lead The University of Oklahoma to a dream season, despite nagging injuries throughout the last half of the season, Heupel would lead OU to a 13-0 record and a National title upset of heavily favored Florida State and Heisman winner Chris Weinke who had barely beaten out Heupel for that award. 

Heupel did win several awards that year including Big 12 offensive player of the year as well as Walter Camp and AP player of the year.

Josh was drafted in the sixth round following the 2000 season and while I have no doubt that he probably could have had a long NFL career, injuries led Josh to his true love, coaching and mentoring. 

Since his brief NFL career ended Josh has coached at the University of Arizona and Oklahoma, most recently as the Quarterback coach of OU where he has helped mentor the careers of converted wide receiver Paul Thompson and Oklahoma high-school star Sam Bradford, the two led OU to three straight conference titles as the quarterback of OU with Bradford going for the fourth straight title this upcoming season. 

Bradford did something under the watch of Heupel that his coach didn't do, that is winning the Heisman and leading the nation in passing efficiency his freshman and sophomore seasons. 

While Heupels legend at OU is fully entrenched as a player and a coach, his biggest impact has been with The FCA and his No. 14 foundation where he helps feed families in need. 

Heupel's faith in God has sculpted his life and it continues to provide the stability in his life and his motivation to continually reach above and beyond to do whats best for those around him. 

Josh was recently married and still lives and coaches in Norman at The University of Oklahoma. Whether his future holds a big time head coaching job in college or simply working with his foundation, there is no doubt that Heupel will continue to impact lives in a positive manner while being highly successful.


*The Road to Glory by Josh Heupel was used for some references