The National Football Foundation (NFF) announced today that the late Oklahoma broadcasting legend Bob Barry, Sr., will receive the organization's Chris Schenkel Award. First presented in 1996, the Chris Schenkel Award seeks to recognize a sports broadcaster who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football with direct ties to a specific university.
"For more than five decades, Bob Barry played an integral role in the fabric of football in the state of Oklahoma," said NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell. "He possessed an unmatched passion for his job, and he captured the drama and excitement of the game for legions of fans for generations. Bob was truly one of the happiest men in college football."
Barry, a 50-year broadcasting veteran in the Sooner State, passed away on Oct. 30, 2011. He was 80. A native of Oklahoma City, Barry graduated from the University of Oklahoma and served in the U.S. Air Force. His broadcasting career began in 1956 at KNOR in Norman, Okla., where he provided play-by-play for high school games featuring the sons of Oklahoma head coach Bud Wilkinson. Impressed with the young broadcaster's work, the Hall of Fame coach asked Barry to audition for the Sooners radio play-by-play job. He landed the job, and he began calling OU games on the radio in 1961, a role he filled until 1972.
Barry shifted upstate in 1972, calling Tulsa games on radio from 1973-74. He then worked as the Oklahoma State play-by-play voice, lasting in Stillwater from 1973-1990. Barry completed his tour of the state when he returned to Norman to call Sooners games from 1991 until 2010.
In addition to his play-by-play calling duties, he was hired to work in the sports department at WKY-TV (now KFOR-TV) in Oklahoma City in 1961. He served as the sports director at the station for 26 years until he was succeeded by his son, Bob Barry, Jr., in 1998. He continued to file reports at KFOR until his retirement in 2008.
Throughout his five-decade career, Barry chronicled the exploits of countless legends, including College Football Hall of Fame coaches Bud Wilkinson and Jimmy Johnson, as well as Hall of Fame players Tom Brahaney, Steve Owens, Greg Pruitt, Barry Sanders, Lee Roy Selmon, Thurman Thomas and Joe Washington. He experienced 10 conference championships, nine bowl victories and the 2000 national championship during his illustrious career.
"He was our eyes when we couldn't see; our voice when unable to speak; and our passion when we needed it expressed," said Oklahoma Athletics Director and NFF Board Member Joe Castiglione at the time of Barry's passing. "For 50 years he made extraordinary contributions to help build our wonderful Oklahoma tradition, and did so while maintaining a positive outlook that always saw the best in others. We will be forever grateful for Bob Barry."
Barry, a 15-time Oklahoma Sportscaster of the Year Award winner, has been recognized as a member of the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame. A former board member of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, Barry was honored with the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters' Pioneer Award in 1993, the Oklahoma City Public Schools' Wall of Fame Humanitarian Award in 2009 and was also recognized as a distinguished alumni by OU's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Barry is the third 2012 NFF Major Awards recipient to be announced, following ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer, who will receive the Distinguished American Award and Alabama athletics director Mal Moore, who will be honored with the John L. Toner Award for excellence in athletics administration.