I spent last week working south of the Sooner behind enemy lines in the state of Texas. Amidst all the Spurs hoopla and celebration there were plenty of opportunities by the locals to take shots at the state of Oklahoma and particularly OU once they found out in conversation where I was from.
The most popular reference I heard in regards to the Sooners was the term "Land Theives." Of course it is a reference to jumping the gun at the Land Run but it got me thinking about the differences in the two mascots and which I would be most proud of?
In the 1800s before Oklahoma was a state, it was officially designated Indian Territory and was settled by the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes who had been forced to give up their lands and move west. Giving in to pressure from eager expansionists, the U.S. government opened up 2 million acres of the land to homesteaders in 1889.
To claim a lot of land, prospective settlers had to participate in a land run. They lined up and waited for the blast of a shotgun to signal the beginning of the run, at which point they would race eagerly to claim a homestead. A "Sooner" was someone who snuck past the territory markers ahead of the gunshot to get an early start.
The longhorn cattle are descendants of the Spanish Corriente cattle introduced into North American by spanish colonists in the 16th and 17th century. The breed began to gain popularity in the late 1870s, when buffalo herds were slaughtered and ranging tribes of Plains Indians largely confined. As a result, ranches were set up to round up the feral cattle to be sold at market and new ranches began spreading northward to the open range of the Noth American Great Plains.
The Texas longhorn is known for its characteristic horns, which can extend to 120 inches tip to tip for steers and exceptional cows and bulls in the 70 to 80 inch tip to tip range. The breed was almost extinct until, in 1927, a group of enthusiasts from the United States Forest Service, collected a small herd of stock to breed on a refuge in, of all places, Oklahoma.
Sooners were rugged and tough. They took what they wanted and kept it. They gambled their lives and even their livelihood to jump ahead of the crowd and start a new life. They didn't steal the land they claimed it first!
A longhorn is, well, a cow. It owes its existents to the Spaniards and its survival to the very state that the Longhorn fans have vowed to hate passionately.
So go ahead Texas make fun of our state as much as you want but you wouldn't have your precious livestock without us. Call us land thieves and we'll embrace it because it is a part of our heritage. The same heritage that made this state great! It wasn't imported from Spain and it didn't need another state to preserve its existence.
Which one would I be most proud of? It would have to be the Sooner. Sure, he may have been a little dishonest and even described by some as a land thief but at least he wasn't a cow.
How many more days until kickoff?