By John Inman
Thirty-three years as a university president and five knee surgeries later, former Heavener Wolves halfback Roger Webb is almost ready to get on with his life. He stepped down from the presidency at Central Oklahoma University in Edmond Friday, July 29 and had the fifth knee surgery on Wednesday, Aug. 3.
“I was in at 6:45 a.m. and back home by noon. This was my fourth (on the left knee, one on the right) and a piece of cake from the first at Holt-Krock (Clinic) in Fort Smith my senior year (of high school, yes it is still there). That was for a tear of the ACL, this one was from a twist moving a limb out of my yard,” said Webb via email, only hours after the knee scope.
“Knee surgeries are much easier these days,” he noted. “My four earlier surgeries were all related to an old high school injury.”
Webb remembers the first one, football-related. “I went down in the Broken Bow game (it was Oct. 17, 1958) and missed the Wilburton game the next week, came back and finished the season and playoffs. The Wolves got better with Jerry Don Johnson in the lineup for me. He was a sophomore but played smart and was gutsy.”
The Wolves finished that year 10-2, beat Idabel Washington but lost to Okmulgee Dunbar in coach Carl Twidwell’s final game as Heavener coach. Bob Collins replaced him the next season.
Webb earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Oklahoma State, later began a professional career in law enforcement where he served 12 years with the Oklahoma Department of Safety and Commissioner of Public Safety until 1978.
He then became a university president at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah in 1978 and moved to UCO in 1997. During that time, he was elected to the Boards of Directors for the International Association of Chiefs of Police and chaired a task force studying the threat of terrorism in large stadiums and sports arenas and on our nation’s energy pipelines.
Given that experience, Webb was a national voice on campus safety, preparedness and violence prevention during his time at the Edmond campus.
As such, he was called on to testify before the U.S. Congress in 2007 following the Virginia Tech University shootings. Under Webb’s leadership, UCO also organized and held the first national Campus Security Summit following the shootings, with college and university representatives attending from throughout the United Sates.
But still he remains humble and modest, too, at least about his playing days with the Wolves.
“There were at least 10 guys on the team better than me,” he said. “My best game was on the road at Stigler. I had something like 130 yards rushing because Don Frost was tearing up the entire right side of the Stigler defense line. He was brutal.
“On one series we ran ‘22 quickie’ five times in a row and I moved it
about 80 yards to the five and (Jim) Davis took it in for the TD,” Webb explained. “I ran for every extra point that game. I think we scored at least 50 points (the actual score was 54-8). Most of the extra points came on a sweep to the right. When you ran behind (Ron) Bennett, Larry Pyles, Bud Thompsonand Glen Lazalier, you didn’t have to have many moves. I did not fail a two-point play until the Idabel playoff game where they had scouted the play and stuffed my butt.
“Frost, Bennett and Pyles were tough as nails, Lazalier was smart enough to help all of us remember the plays.Bud Thompson was an overachiever that gave it 100 percent.”
Hal Dowden, the quarterback on the 1958 team, told about one example when Twidwell was coaching and Webb confirmed it. Seems “Twid,” as his players now call him, lined up the entire team to run sprints and the four fastest would comprise the backfield, according to Dowden.
“The Twid story is right about lining us up and taking the four fastest for his backfield. His experiment worked out pretty well because we ended up with a balanced offense. Hal turned into a very nice quarterback and perhaps the biggest surprise,” said Webb.
He obviously hasn’t forgotten his time in Heavener.
“It remains to be seen how retirement works out. My son Brandon, is president at Carl Albert College (in Poteau) and that gets me down to our home town. How fortunate we were to grow up on that little town of wonderful people who really did care about their neighbors and the kids up the street,” recalled Webb.
Now, however, Webb is ready for the next step in his life.
“I am very fortunate to have been named Vice Chairman of the Board and in charge of government relations for Citizens Bank of Edmond, an old bank that goes back before statehood. I’ve noticed bankers have flexible hours and I am ready to stop being on duty 24/7,” he said.