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New Jay Wilkinson book out Thursday

Every week, Bud Wilkinson took time to write a letter to his son, who was away halfway across the country in college.

Some were letters of encouragement. Some were letters of guidance. Some were about, well, football. But all of them revealed another side of the legendary Oklahoma coach -- as a loving and devoted father.

In the book “Dear Jay, Love Bud” -- which goes on sale Thursday -- Jay Wilkinson shares forty-seven letters his father sent to him while he was starring in football for Duke, and later, attending theology school.

“I was aware at that age that these lessons, principles and values he was talking about were very special and were certainly part of what made him such a successful coach and a successful man,” Jay said. “They reveal his defining qualities as a man. Themes of character, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, preparation and perseverance.”

As a college student, Jay didn’t know he would someday be showing his father’s letters to the world. But something inside him said then he should hang onto them.

“Even then I felt they had some historical significance,” Jay said. Some letters were lost over the years. But enough survived to give the reader a portrait of the man who launched the OU football dynasty in the 1950s.

Jay got the idea for the book a couple of years ago after he was asked to deliver a speech during the commemoration ceremony of the Bud Wilkinson Room at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

“For many years, I kept the letters in an envelope in a drawer next to my bed, but I never took time to go read them,” Jay said. “I pulled out one of the letters, and thought they could show a different perspective about my dad that the average person might not know.”

The speech, and the letters, were a hit. Jay knew then he needed to put the letters in a book.

“I returned home and told my wife, ‘I should take the time and reconstruct what these letters mean,” Jay said. “Then and now.”

“Dear Jay, Love Bud” will be available for purchase on Thursday at winningthewilkinsonway.com You can also find it at Oklahoma bookstores, Amazon.com, OUPress.com or by calling 325-2000.

Jay is also the author of “Bud Wilkinson: An Intimate Portrait of an American Legend.”

Read an excerpt from Wilkinson's book after the jump.


September, 1960

Dear Jay,

It was good to talk to you—I know things will get better because you are the kind of person who can adjust and find the good in all situations.

When I read your letter, I recalled vividly many similar times in my life. When I left home to go to Shattuck, I was truly blue. Yet I know now how fine a thing it was for me and my future. The training I received has made my life good. When I left you, Pat, and Mother to go to sea during the war, I was really shaken. I loved you and wanted to watch you and help you as you grew up—and I was leaving not knowing if I’d ever get back again. But once more, the experience and training I received more than compensated for the heartaches. Then too, I had the personal satisfaction of knowing I had done my duty.

One of the first things an education brings to people is the realization that the world is a big place—full of many different ideas and ways of doing things. You have watched our team practice and quite naturally are attuned to our ways of doing things. Bill Murray has been a fine coach for many years. Instead of wondering why they do things differently, you should be studying what they do so you will understand that their approach will get the job done more effectively—maybe more easily than we can.

When any person leaves a pleasant situation to enter the “unknown,” there is always the realization of how nice, good and comfortable things were before. Yet only by facing the future and accepting new and progressively more difficult challenges are we able to grow, develop, and avoid stagnation. You have more total, all-around ability in all fields than anyone I have ever known. You will certainly be a great man and make a great contribution to the world. But to do this you must take on new and progressively more difficult challenges. You will grow and develop in direct relationship to the way you meet and overcome what at first seem to be hard assignments. You will learn to love Duke—to take great pride in the school and their football team. You’re that kind of person. By developing as a student and an athlete, you will prepare yourself to do bigger and better things when you graduate.

Always remember that I believe in you no matter what. You must do what seems right to you. Don’t ever be swayed by what “other people will think.” My grandmother, a great lady—one of the finest I‘ve ever known—always told me when I was a young boy growing up to “dare to be a Daniel; dare to stand alone.” It is the best advice one can have for happy, successful living. After analyzing and evaluating the circumstances—always do what seems best to you in the light of your own good judgment. Only in this way can you find peace of mind because you cannot be happy doing “what other people think you should do.” You must do what you think you should do.

I didn’t quite finish this letter yesterday before practice so am doing so this morning, Saturday. Norman tied Capitol Hill last night 26–26. They miss their “Big Tiger” on defense—as well as offense.

I love you, Jay, more than anything in life. Don’t worry about things—live each day by doing your best. Will look forward to talking to you tomorrow.

Love always,

Dad