Okemah will be in the statewide spotlight next month thanks to former resident and legendary college football coach, Larry Coker.
Coker will take the stage August 6 as part of the induction ceremony at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame where his name will forever be jotted down in the history books as one of Oklahoma’s greatest in the world of sports.
This will be his second ‘hall of fame’ induction this year after he was inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame in April alongside NFL greats Frank Gore and Devin Hester, to name a couple.
Born in Okemah in June 1948, Coker started his college football career at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah as a successful three-year defensive back.
After his stint as a player for the RiverHawks, he began coaching. First, as a high school head coach (Fairfax, Okla. and Claremore) then offensive coordinator for Tulsa University, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, later becoming the defensive backs coach at Ohio State University.
In 2001, Coker started his college head coaching career at the University of Miami. He had served as offensive coordinator from 1995-2001 before taking over at the helm. His first season saw great success, as Coker became the second head coach since 1948 to win the National Championship in his first season.
He was also named the AFCA Coach of the Year, Big East Coach of the Year, received the Paul “Bear” Bryant Award and won a Big East Conference Championship.
He went on to coach at the University of Miami until 2006. From there, he went to the University of Texas-San Antonio where he built the college’s first NCAA football program from scratch, starting in 2009. The Roadrunners played their first season in 2011 and were coached by Coker until 2016.
Coker is now retired and resides in San Antonio. Some of his family members still live in Okemah.
He will be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame alongside other great sportsmen from the state, such as Joe Castiglione, Ken Mendenhall, Bill Pickett, Allan Trimble, Robin Ventura and Mat Hoffman.
The induction ceremony will be held at the Riverwind Showplace Theatre in Norman. Tickets are $150 each.
By Josh Allen, ONL Reporter