Born: December 3, 1923 – Arkansas City, KS
Died: July 5, 2009 – Sun City, AZ
Graduated: Arkansas City High School, 1942; University of Oklahoma, 1949
Jack Churchill Mitchell helped start one of the great college football dynasties of all-time during his days as a quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and later was a successful football coach at the University of Kansas.
High School Highlights
Mitchell was a great all-around athlete at Arkansas City High School. He earned all-state honors in football as a senior and also won a state championship in tennis as part of a doubles team. Mitchell led the Ark Valley League in scoring as a junior and senior in basketball and was offered a scholarship by Kansas head coach Phog Allen.
Mitchell accepted a full-ride football scholarship to the University of Texas for the 1942 season, but was there for only one year before entering military service in World War II. He enrolled at Oklahoma in 1946 and immediately became one of the top punt returners in the country. He returned seven punts for touchdowns in his career – a record that stood until 2003 – and led coach Bud Wilkinson’s team to a 17-3 record as a junior and senior. He was an All-American quarterback in 1948 and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1949 Sugar Bowl. Mitchell helped create the option play during the 1948 season when the Sooners played Texas.
A shoulder injury cut short Mitchell’s NFL career and he returned to Oklahoma to coach high school football for one season before college stints at Tulsa, Texas Tech, Wichita State, Arkansas and Kansas. Mitchell produced a 13-5-1 record at Wichita State (1953-54), including a 9-1 mark in ’54, and a 44-42-2 mark at Kansas (1958-66). He led KU to a victory in the 1961 Bluebonnet Bowl and later coached the legendary Gale Sayers.