John Clark Jacobs

The Early Years

University of Oklahoma


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John was born September 9, 1892, on a farm near Garland, TX. He attended Mangum High School where he played baseball. He saw his first track meet when he arrived on the University of Oklahoma campus in the fall of 1911. He went out for track to escape the boredom of physical education classes and quickly developed into one of the greatest track athletes in Sooner history.

"Jake", as everybody called him, was high scorer in the Southwest Conference Track meet in 1914 and at one time held O.U. track records in the high hurdles, high jump, low hurdles and broad jump. In addition, he ran the anchor leg on the Sooner's victorious dirt trac mile relay team.

John married Daphne Dobson, a music major, in 1915, and they had two sons - John Jacobs, Jr., of Waco, Texas, and William "Bill" Jacobs of Seattle, Washington. Jake's wife preceded him in death in 1961. There are seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

After graduation, he coached at Corsicana, Texas, Sherman, Texas, and Ponca City, Oklahoma. His Sherman High School football team won the State Championship. In 1922, Athletic Director Bennie Owens of the University of Oklahoma hired John Jacobs to coach the Sooner track team. Thus began a long and fruitful track career of 46 years at the Sooner stronghold in Norman. John Jacobs was honored by the Board of Regents of the University when they named the new track complex the "John Jacobs Field."

In 1952, he led the way when he coached a girl, Caroline McDermott, the young daughter of O.U.'s Chairman of Men's Physical Education Department, to the National Junior AAU 80 meter hurdle championship. Other unknowns he found and developed were: 1) Bruce Drummond - XC and mile (4:12 at Texas Relays), 2) Warren Rouse - 2 mile (Big 7 Champion), 3) Bill Weaver (better known to us as Dennis Weaver or McCloud of TV fame) - Decathlon (3rd KU Relays) - High Jump - Triple Jump, 4) Bill Jacobs, his own son - a basketball player who decided in his sophmore year to report for track. He had never worn a track shoe. Two years later he was the surprise of the Big 7 Outdoor Meet. Winning the 880 on a muddy track in 1:52.8 defeating the faorite and defending champion, Pat Bowers of Kansas.

High among John Jacob's coaching accomplishments are the following three performances at the Drake Relays:

1)Parker Shelby was the first athlete in Drake Relays history to become a three time winner, taking the high jump crown in 1928, 1929, and 1930 with his best jump of 6'5". 2) In 1948, Jack pioneered in coaching the Hop, Step and Jump (the triple jump). This event was practically an unknown event in the USA, but his Sooner athletes who had placed first and second in the Kansas Hop, Step and Jump the week before, scored even better at Drake, placing first, second and fourth. Jake's coaching had scored again. 3) Between the long jump, high jump and triple jump, Jacob's men won 10 of Oklahoma's 14 Drake Relays titles. One of the two running titles came in the Shuttle Hurdle Relay in 1935.



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