"Jimbo" Elrod, wrestler and football star at the University of Oklahoma in the early 1970s, was killed in a single-vehicle wreck early Monday morning on I-44 in his native Oklahoma. He was 62.
Elrod lost control of his 2015 Lexus heading east on the Turner Turnpike -- the toll road linking Oklahoma City and Tulsa -- at 3:43 a.m., ran off the road, hit a guardrail, causing the car to roll end-over-end. Elrod, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected through the sunroof and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Elrod's 61-year-old wife, Diana, was taken to an Oklahoma City hospital in serious condition, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Born in May 1954, James Whittington "Jimbo" Elrod wrestled and played football at East Central High School in Tulsa before graduating in 1972. The 6'1", 220-pound Elrod earned a dual scholarship at Oklahoma, where he was a member of the Sooner wrestling team that won the team title at the 1974 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. Wrestling for head coach Stan Abel, Elrod was a two-time letterwinner for the Sooners in 1973 and 1974.
"(Elrod) was the starter in '73 at 190 pounds but only an average wrestler," according to Ron Good, editor of Amateur Wrestling News. "Alex Macaluso of Oklahoma State pinned Elrod in the Bedlam match; and Al Nacin, Iowa State, beat him 8-1 in their February dual. Not sure why, but he lost his spot late in the season to Kevin Quigley, who finished third in the Big 8. Greg Strobel won nationals that year; Nacin (the 2 seed) was fifth."
"In 1974 (Elrod) was on the team with Gary Breece, Rod Kilgore and Jeff Callard. He was again the starter at 190 pounds. He lost the Bedlam dual to Macaluso again, but only 6-5. Probably his two biggest moments of his career came in '74 as he drew Laurent Soucie of Wisconsin, 5-5 in a dual. Soucie was NCAA third in 1975. Biggest win came on Feb. 8 in Norman when he beat Rich Calderon of Washington, 6-5. Calderon was NCAA fourth the same year, 1974. But once again, Elrod lost his spot for the Big 8 tournament to Mark Mullins. Nacin beat Mullins in the Big 8 final."
In addition to his wrestling career at Oklahoma, Elrod was also a key member of the OU national championship football teams of 1974 and 1975, where he earned consensus All-American honors. After graduating from Oklahoma with a degree in Public Relations and Business Administration, Elrod continued his football career in the NFL, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs for three seasons and the Houston Oilers for one season.
Barry Switzer, Oklahoma head football coach while Elrod was a linebacker for the Sooners, said in a statement upon learning of his former player's death, "Great wrestler and a great football player. Wrestling is what made Jimbo such a great football player. It gave him great upper-body strength and quickness. He could really run. He was a tenacious player and a competitor. He was really good and he was a member of a great group at Oklahoma."
"We are shocked and saddened at the loss of Jimbo Elrod, a former Sooner All-American, but more importantly a friend and member of our family," said Oklahoma Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione. "He made a point to attend countless Sooner events, bringing his ever-present enthusiasm supporting his University and its people. We are praying for Diana's recovery and the well-being of the entire Elrod family. This is certainly a heartbreaking day."