NORMAN — The University of Oklahoma mourns the passing of John Blake, OU’s head football coach from the 1996 through 1998 seasons and the school’s first Black head coach in any sport. He was 59.
Blake was hired at age 34 on Dec. 31, 1995. His three Sooner teams combined for a 12-22 record, going 3-8 in 1996, 4-8 in 1997 and 5-6 in 1998. Many of the players he recruited to OU won a national championship with the Sooners in 2000 under head coach Bob Stoops.
From Sand Springs, Okla., Blake was an OU nose guard from the 1979 through 1982 seasons under head coach Barry Switzer, helping the Sooners to a 36-11-1 record during that span.
He began his coaching career at OU in 1985 as a student assistant for the Sooners’ national championship team and was a graduate assistant in 1986. After a two-year stint as a full-time assistant coach at Tulsa, Blake returned to Norman as OU’s defensive line coach in 1989 under head coach Gary Gibbs, and as linebackers coach from 1990 to ’92.