NORMAN — Merv Johnson, who has been involved with the Oklahoma football program for the last 41 years, announced his retirement as the Sooners' radio analyst Friday.
The 84-year-old Johnson began his OU career as an assistant coach in 1979 under head coach Barry Switzer and served in that capacity until 1997. He then began a 20-year run as the program's director of operations, and was hired by athletics director Joe Castiglione as radio analyst in 1999, working alongside play-by-play announcers Bob Barry Sr. and later Toby Rowland. Johnson assembled a mind-boggling streak of 513 OU games worked from 1979 to 2019.
"I felt very fortunate to have coached and broadcasted for so many years," said Johnson. "Year in and year out I've been so proud to be associated with such a great university and football program. I'm looking forward to spending time with my family. My family is all around me here. I'm going to love watching the games with them."
In his 41 years with the Sooners, Johnson was part of 33 bowl games, 19 conference titles and two national championships (1985 and 2000).
Johnson's first game as a Sooner occurred on Sept. 15, 1979, when third-ranked Oklahoma posted a 21-6 win over an Iowa team that featured safety Bob Stoops. Stoops went on to win a school-record 190 games as OU head coach from 1999-2016. His first game as OU head coach was Johnson's first game as the team's radio analyst.
"Not many men have been more ingrained with OU and football than Merv Johnson," said Castiglione. "For 70 years, he played, coached and broadcasted the sport, and regardless of which role he was in, he was always a delight to the fans. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Merv for serving Sooner football and all of us so well.
"I remember when we added Merv to the broadcast. I went back and listened to the game later and it was clear that we had a winner. His uncanny knack for seeing things before they happened made him a necessity for any football fan. It gave all of us the unique perspective of watching the game with a very knowledgeable coach. Not only did he entertain us, he taught us the game, and always with his characteristic charm and class."
Rowland, who is entering his 10th season as OU's radio play-by-play announcer, said, "Merv Johnson is an Oklahoma icon. Working alongside him for the last nine years has been one of the greatest thrills of my career. We're going to miss him in our booth immensely."
Joining Rowland on OU's radio crew for 2020 are analysts and former Sooner All-Americans Teddy Lehman and Gabe Ikard, and sideline reporter Chris Plank.