Thursday, December 29, 2011

Myron Roderick

I was sad to see that Oklahoma State wrestling legend Myron Roderick died. (Click here for an obit from the Oklahoman.) I had a chance to meet him while I was in college....
   It was early 1985, and I needed a story. As a journalism major at OSU, I found myself in a required, upper-level feature writing class, taught by Professor Harry Heath, the brilliant curmudgeon who had been the head of the whole journalism school at one time. After mulling over one mundane idea after another, I decided to write about the rebirth of the OSU football team.
   The Cowboys had just gone 10-2 in Pat Jones' first season, and everyone on campus was giddy about the football team. (It would be the early 1990s before everyone realized that Jones couldn't coach a lick.)
   I don't remember why, but I decided that I needed to interview Roderick, who was the athletic director at the time. Early one afternoon, I looked up the phone number for the athletic director's office and called it.
   Roderick answered the phone himself, catching me off-guard. After stammering around for a beat or two, I told him who I was, and what I wanted.
   "OK, I'm not real busy right now," he said. "Why don't you come by my office?"
   Try to imagine a major-college athletic director today doing something like that.
   I dashed across campus to the athletic offices, which were in the east end zone building attached to Lewis Field (what we now know as Boone Pickens Stadium). A secretary led me into a not-large office, and there was Myron Roderick, who smiled and shook my hand. Strong grip, not surprisingly.
   We talked for probably 45 minutes, about the football team, about the athletic department (and, like an idiot, I didn't ask him a single question about wrestling). I don't remember most of what he said, although I do recall him saying, in not so many words, that Jimmy Johnson was not the friendliest guy and that no one in the athletic department missed him. (Johnson left in the spring of 1984 to coach the University of Miami.)
   Then Roderick said, "Hey, you want to talk to Coach Jones?" And we were walking down a hallway to the football offices, where I spent about 30 minutes interviewing Pat Jones.
   Later, as I walked back to my dorm, I shook my head in amazement at how I had spent my afternoon. I wrote the story for my class over the next several nights, and I don't think I got a very good grade (Professor Heath was tough), but I didn't care. From that moment forward, I was a big fan of Myron Roderick.
   Everyone will remember his wrestling accomplishments, the NCAA titles, the fact that he hired Eddie Sutton. What I will remember is how he took the time to help a mostly-clueless journalism student with his homework.

1 comment:

The Racquetball Blog said...

Nice piece. We need more good guys like Roderick. And he was a racquetball player! Ha!