2020-05-24 sp-emigcolumn Tubbs

Former Oklahoma basketball coach Billy Tubbs enjoyed trading barbs with Missouri’s Norm Stewart when they were in the Big Eight. AP file

The email from Barry arrived last Monday. The subject: “Cheer Up!”

“Today’s column was great,” Barry wrote, “but it was missing the most important leg of the stool.”

I wasn’t laughing, he meant, and he was right. Too much thinking and crying, not enough of life’s funny stuff.

Barry attached to his email the YouTube clip of Billy Tubbs’ “regardless of how terrible the officiating is” arrow at Ed Hightower. Still makes me laugh 31 years later.

I thanked Barry for a job well done. I promised him I’d laugh more this week, even with the pandemic continuing to bear down.

Here’s how that went ...

This made me laugh

I dug up my 2012 story on Tubbs’ stunt that famed 1989 night against Missouri, and included it in my reply to Barry. Both Tubbs and Norm Stewart got off some great lines for the piece.

Tubbs: “Norm started it. He called me a jackass. So then I called him Francis the Talking Mule. A jackass was a purebred. The mule was not a purebred. It was half donkey, half horse. That fit better, I thought.”

Stewart: “I called him one time. I said, ‘Tubbs, goddang it, we can make a lot money on this. When you guys come to my place, we’ll sell T-shirts. On the front will be a mule, on the back a jackass. Then we’ll come to yours and we’ll reverse it, put the jackass on the front.’”

Here’s one from Tubbs that didn’t make it into the story: “Where now it’s all nicey-nicey, we couldn’t say enough bad things about each other. Hell, it was like the presidents’ primaries. We’d cut each other down as best we could. That made the rivalry a lot more fun.”

I do miss the old Big Eight. Tubbs, Stewart, Johnny Orr and “Slippery Joe” Cipriano traded barbs as often as their teams traded baskets. They were coaches and comics and their game benefited both ways.

At least we can still benefit from their wisecrackery. Comes in handy at a time like this.

And this made me laugh

Tulsa football coach Philip Montgomery was hosting a Zoom call with media last Thursday when someone asked about his quarterbacks’ progress the past two months.

Montgomery chuckled and said: “Everybody’s situation is a little bit different. Half the time Zach’s going to class and then he’s on a tractor harvesting and doing stuff like that. I’m like, ‘C’mon now, big fella. You’ve got the rest of your life to harvest.’ ”

Truth is, TU starting QB Zach Smith has hopped down off the combine some. According to his Twitter feed, he was zipping spirals around Cleburne (Texas) High School earlier this month. He’s getting his football in.

It’s just a reminder of one of TU’s most interesting stories. Smith grew up on a Texas ranch called Goat Neck.

His childhood activities included baseball, football and rodeo.

He’s playing football for the city university now, but it’s pretty cool to realize the city hasn’t removed all of the country from him.

And this made me laugh

Bob Bowlsby was on SirusXM Big 12 Radio last Friday morning, talking about his personal pandemic stress relievers.

“I’m lucky to have two of our four children and four of our seven grandchildren in Dallas,” he said. “As my wife tells me, ‘You’re just a nicer guy after you’ve been around your grandchildren.’ ”

I’ve been told there are few gifts more precious than grandparenthood. This must be one reason why.

And this made me laugh

I was talking to Oklahoma State golf coach Alan Bratton last Monday about former Cowboys Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff joining forces for a charity skins game against Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, when a gaffe from NBC’s telecast came up.

“Mike Tirico goofed up when he said they were teammates,” Bratton said.

Uh, not quite. Fowler is 31, Wolff is 21.

Too bad a fan counting OSU’s national championships was listening.

“I had somebody call me today saying, ‘How did you guys not win it all with Matthew and Rickie on the same team?’ ” Bratton cracked up.

Side note — how in the world is Rickie Fowler 31 years old?

And this made me laugh

Speaking of time warping, I watched “Risky Business” for the first time in ages last week. Joel Goodson, Tom Cruise’s breakout character, would be 55 years old right now.

He’d be telling his own teenaged son: “Sometimes you just gotta say what the heck.”

Guerin Emig



Twitter: @GuerinEmig



Sports Columnist

Proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the Oklahoma Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.