For three perfect seasons (1954-1956), the Oklahoma Sooners won every football game they played - home or away - and over the course of five years they won 47 straight games. This awesome record was the product of a genius and masterful coach named Bud Wilkinson and the spirited young men he led. The Undefeated will detail all the thrilling action on the field during this record winning streak, but it will also reveal all the behind-the-scenes tumult and pressure swirling around it. Dent presents an absorbing character study of the brilliant, complex coach who engineered it all - Bud Wilkinson, the on-field genius whoses starched-shirt public persona hid a man of many secrets and an in-depth look at a state and its people still suffering from a Depression hangover and an identity crisis, who took up the Sooners football banner almost as a religious cause. Through it all, the young men who accomplished this amazing feat shine in vivid life.
The 1954 1956 University of Oklahoma Sooners played heroic, near-perfect football under the Patton-like command of Bud Wilkinson, leaving a towering legacy of college football records: 47 consecutive wins in Division I. It remains, almost 50 years later, "the greatest winning streak in college football history." The characters and the high (and sometimes low, and comic) moments of "the streak" bear recounting in this era of evanescent sports records. Dent (The Junction Boys) conveys different aspects of his story unevenly, but his earnest documentation of the players on their own heartland turf will make the book of interest to nonfans. The Sooners' three seasons unwind in a leisurely haze, a game-film of an America, a brand of college life, and a kind of player that no longer exist. The complex, handsome and stoic Wilkinson, who makes Tom Landry seem like a chorus line director, was known (without irony) by the players and campus officials as "Great White Father," ostensibly because of his regal head of silver hair. Perhaps the backroom reverence for Wilkinson, handed down across the High Plains generations, stops Dent from criticizing Wilkinson's womanizing and blatant recruiting corruption. For Dent and the Sooners, what matters is that Wilkinson's winning teams drew the entire region out of its dust-bowl Okie funk into the bright orbit of national sports respectability. His own booster instincts working against his terse style, Dent barely avoids falling into overwrought nostalgia peddling, and offers college football purists a look straight back at an astounding moment in a bygone era and a good primary-source record of "the streak." 16 pages b&w photos not seen by PW.