The Oil Bowl started as a simple summertime West Texas vs. East Texas high school all-star football game back in 1938. Today the Oil Bowl is one of the most prestigious postseason all-star games in the United States.
Many Oil Bowlers have gone on to be stars in college and professional football. Steve Owens went from here to win the Heisman Trophy. Others such as Jack Mildren, J. C. Watts, and Steve Largent have not only made names for themselves in football but also in politics. The game has also featured some coaching legends, both in the high school and college ranks. Texas high school coaching legends such as Gordon Wood, Joe Golding, and G. A. Moore all have coached in the Oil Bowl, as well as Grant Teaff (Baylor), Matty Bell (SMU), Blair Cherry (Texas), Dutch Meyer (TCU), and Jess Neely (Rice). Another coaching legend, Hayden Fry once played in the Oil Bowl.
Since its inception, the Oil Bowl has raised thousands of dollars for less fortunate children. From 1945 through 2011 (except for one year) net proceeds were divided between Texas and Oklahoma with Texas’ share going to the North Texas Rehabilitation Center in Wichita Falls and Oklahoma’s share going to the Oklahoma Coaches Association charities. From 2012 until 2019, proceeds of the game went to Shriners Hospitals for Children. Beginning in 2020, proceeds from the game go to Maskat Shrine.
From 1945 through 2013, with the exception of one year, the format was Texas vs. Oklahoma. The top high school players from the two states went head-to-head every June for football bragging rights. In 2014 Oklahoma chose not to participate any longer and the game became a regional contest between East and West Texas players. Wichita Falls is the northcentral point of the region. Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2020 Maskat Shrine Oil Bowl Classic was cancelled.