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Oh, Brother
November 29, 2008
By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Correspondent

It was 35 years ago when the Brothers Selmon started a three-year reign of tackling and sacking the likes of which has never been seen again.

Playing for Oklahoma in 1973, Lucious Selmon was a senior on his way to becoming a consensus All-American and the Big Eight Conference's defensive player of the year. During that 1973 season, he was joined on the Sooners' defensive line by younger brothers Dewey and Lee Roy. That season, the brothers combined for 234 tackles and Lee Roy had nine sacks.

A sophomore, Lee Roy Selmon was just starting a memorable Oklahoma career. It culminated with a consensus All-America season in 1975 and the Outland Trophy.

"He won the Outland that year but I would have given him the Heisman and all the other awards," said Oklahoma State's Derrel Gofourth, an offensive lineman who was twice named All-Big Eight Conference and was an All-American his senior season. "He's a great individual and the best player I ever faced."

That's a familiar theme when Lee Roy Selmon's career is mentioned. Oklahoma coach Barry Switzter, who coached 23 players who were named All-Americans during his 15 seasons, said Selmon was the best player he ever coached.

For a school with a rich tradition of outstanding players, Oklahoma naming Lee Roy Selmon as its Big 12 Legend makes perfect sense. He'll be honored along with 11 other Legends during the Dr Pepper Football Championship in Kansas City Dec. 5-6.

"They could have selected any number of great players who have played at the University of Oklahoma," Selmon said. "For them to have selected me is beyond anything I could have imagined. I can think of 20 other people who deserve it."

The Selmons grew up on a farm in Eufala, Okla. The youngest of nine children, Lee Roy never imagined playing college football or attending the University of Oklahoma.

"Dewey and I wanted to go to college but we knew it was out of range financially," said Lee Roy, who in 1999 was one of six defensive tackles named to Sports Illustrated's All-Century Team. "When Lucious got the chance to go to Oklahoma, we were excited for him. A couple of years later, we had schools recruiting us and we chose to follow him.

"It was the right decision. It made our college years a lot of fun. Playing with my brothers in college was special. It was one of the greatest times of my life."

In his three years as a starter, Oklahoma went 32-1-1 and won two national championships. And in 1975, he not only won the Outland Trophy, he was named a National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete. Selmon earned his degree in education while devoting 10 hours a week to volunteer service.

Selmon was drafted by Tampa Bay, an expansion team, and became the first Buccaneer to earn a spot in the NFL Hall of Fame. He remained in the Tampa area after retiring from the Bucs and helped with another "expansion" team.

In 1993 he joined the University of South Florida as associate director of athletics. Selmon helped the school start a football program that has become a consistent winner. The Bulls reached a No. 2 national ranking last season and will play in their fourth consecutive bowl game this season.

"How often do you have a chance to be on the ground floor of something," Selmon said. "It's neat to be a part of that and I've been able to do that twice. I looked on helping start South Florida's program as a chance to give back. I would not have been able to go to college without a student-athlete scholarship. It was no brainer for me to get involved.

"As long as you can keep a level head and know you're not anybody than anyone else, that you just have an opportunity to play sports, your obligation and commitment is to help your fellow man."

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