Mike Leach recalls time he fooled Texas with fake call sheet during 1999 Red River Shootout
PULLMAN – Nearly two decades later, Mike Leach still cackles as he tells the story of the time he stumped Texas before the 1999 Red River Showdown.
The Washington State coach and former Oklahoma offensive coordinator rehashed the tale Monday during his weekly news conference, six days ahead of the 113th meeting between the rival Sooners and Longhorns, set to take place Saturday at 9 a.m. Pacific time at the Cotton Bowl.
Days before the ’99 game, Leach and then-OU running backs coach Cale Gundy devised a fake call sheet with schemes and plays that were the opposite of what the Sooners would plan to run against the Longhorns. Gundy’s name was printed at the top to make it appear as if the sheet were his, and the Sooners intentionally left the piece of paper on the turf of the Cotton Bowl after the kickers left the field before the game.
The Longhorns picked up the Sooners’ bread crumbs.
A Texas graduate assistant found the mock call sheet and delivered it to Longhorns DC Carl Reese, who stuffed the paper in his pocket and quickly darted into a tunnel and back to the Texas locker room.
“It was kind of funny watching them find it,” Leach said. “‘Oh what’s this?’”
The Longhorns then spent considerable time reviewing OU’s plays and adjusting their game plan based on what the call sheet told them, Leach recalled.
“I’ve heard over the years from people who were there, the whole time before the game they’re sitting their studying and trying to break this sucker down and trying to see where they could arrive at from it,” he said. “So you’d try to say something opposite, like you’d say screen but then you’d go vertical or something like that. Or something to the outside, then you’d go inside.”
The trickery allowed OU to beat Texas for a touchdown just 29 seconds into the game, as quarterback Josh Heupel threw a 44-yard scoring strike to freshman wide receiver Antwone Savage on a crossing route, giving the Sooners a 7-0 lead.
The Longhorns eventually won a classic Red River Showdown, 38-28, but the phony call sheet still remains an indelible memory from the game.
“Sometimes it’s just disruptive if you’re trying to tell your players to remember a bunch of stuff,” Leach said. “‘Look for this, watch for that, tell him this.’ You give them a bunch of maybes and guys will play hesitant.”