Live weather: Storms moving through Oklahoma

NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Carl Albert's Al Miller dies at age 86

Advertisement
Al Miller talks to a player during his Carl Albert days. (Oklahoman archive photo)
Al Miller talks to a player during his Carl Albert days. (Oklahoman archive photo)


It’s easy to think of Carl Albert High School football as one of the state’s dominant powers. The Titans have won 14 state championships in the last 30 years in the class now known as 5A.

But it wasn’t always so. In 1989, Carl Albert not only had not won a state football title, the Titans never had won a boys state championship in any sport. Then Carl Albert won the 1989 Class 4A football crown, and a dynasty was born.

Al Miller coached those Titans.

Miller died last week at age 86, 30 years after retiring immediately following his greatest athletic achievement.

“I intended to retire regardless of what happened,” Miller said not long after Carl Albert’s 14-7 state-finals victory over Tahlequah. “But what a way to go."

Miller grew up in Oklahoma City and scored 22 points in Capitol Hill’s 28-14 victory over Seminole in the 1949 state championship game.

Miller went to the University of Tulsa, played minor-league baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals organization and eventually went into coaching. He coached junior-college basketball a year at what is now Southwestern Christian University, and also coached at Southeast and Tuttle high schools before taking the Carl Albert job in 1980. Miller’s 17-year record was 162-37, going 75-12 in seven years at Tuttle and 87-25 record in 10 years at Carl Albert.

Miller had a lot of close calls for state titles before breaking through. Former Oklahoman sports editor Mike Sherman covered high schools in the 1980s and remembers Miller answering critics that he couldn’t win the big one by saying, “I’ve got over 150 wins; you’d think there would be a big one in there somewhere.”

I always felt a personal affinity for Miller. His mother, Lovie Miller, and my parents sang together in churches in the 1950s.

“When I was in high school, I never dreamed of teaching and coaching,” Miller told The Oklahoman back in 2008. “Ever. I was going to quit school when I got 15 years old, because then you could, and go to work. The only reason I stayed was because of athletics. Because I started playing ball up there at Capitol Hill.

“I loved playing. Since I was a little ol' kid, I loved it. I didn't care how late we practiced, I didn't care about anything. I went to practice once and I had five boils on the back of my neck. Boils! And I had to put a rubber sponge and tape on my neck so my helmet wouldn't pinch them between the shoulder pads. Nowadays, some ol' kid gets an ingrown toenail and he doesn't want to play or something.”

“Coaching was a carryover where I could live vicariously through players. You take some ol' kid there that's got some talent, and you just develop that talent. It's just life-enhancing, shall I say.”

A memorial service for Miller will be held at 1 p.m. April 12 at Southern Hills Baptist Church.

Related Photos
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH: Al Miller during his 18-year tenure at Carl Albert.	ORG XMIT: 0807051951517236

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH: Al Miller during his 18-year tenure at Carl Albert. ORG XMIT: 0807051951517236

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-443aaa235c8156d20d236c3e38034a34.jpg" alt="Photo - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH: Al Miller during his 18-year tenure at Carl Albert. ORG XMIT: 0807051951517236" title="HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH: Al Miller during his 18-year tenure at Carl Albert. ORG XMIT: 0807051951517236"><figcaption>HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH: Al Miller during his 18-year tenure at Carl Albert. ORG XMIT: 0807051951517236</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

Comments