As some of you may have realized, each week we post a list of reasons why we hate the other teams in our conference. As you probably didn’t notice, we skipped Kansas and Iowa State (feels wrong to bash their football program). Well this week, we actually add Oklahoma State to that list. As an in-state rival, OU and OSU are tied together in some ways. In a weird, “rising tide floats all boats,” situation, their success actually feels like our success sometimes. So despite the rivalry, Bedlam should be marked as a game of mutual respect.
Conference play comes to an end this week for the Sooners, who face Oklahoma State for an opportunity to run the table in the Big 12. In case you were thinking about getting complacent, we're here to remind you exactly why we hate all the teams in our conference. So read up, take to comment sections across the internet, and don't let anybody tell you to calm down.
Always Little Brother
This week, because I can't help myself, I perused some of the Oklahoma State message boards. I was preparing to preview the game, and wanted to see how the other side thinks. Spoiler alert: our predictions were very different. In addition to learning that they like to call Oklahoma "uo," I also learned that their fans expect a good victory for the Pokes in Norman. Also, for reasons that cannot be explained, they don't like their "little brother" status, and think they're every bit as good as the Sooners.
At the risk of some hubris, let's run through some facts:
- Oklahoma leads the series 85-18-7.
- Mike Gundy is 2-9 against the Sooners, which gives him the third most wins against OU by an OSU coach in history. It also means that Gundy has lost to Oklahoma as many times as Bob Stoops has lost home games in his 17 years at OU.
- Bob Stoops is 13-4 against the Pokes.
- Oklahoma has shut out OSU more times (27, not including two 0-0 ties in 1929 and 1934) than OSU has won the game (18).
- For as much as OSU might have improved over the years, they are 2-8 in their last ten games against the Sooners.
Given the historic domination of this series, you'd think there'd be more respect given from OSU. There isn't.
This rivalry really is the ultimate “little brother” scenario, and not just because its a lopsided affair. To Oklahoma State, this is the game of the year. To them, we are their biggest rivals. That makes things a bit awkward, though, because Sooner fans care the most about a little game that takes place at the Texas State Fair each year. It’s not the only game like this (A&M felt the same about UT, and Michigan State feels the same way about Michigan, while those schools are primarily concerned with Oklahoma and Ohio State, respectively).
Do we dislike OSU more than UT? Possibly, but only because the dislike of UT comes from a mutual respect scenario, each team having a claim as a historic power of college football. This is just a bonus rivalry for Sooner fans, and that probably won’t change no matter how many coaches UT has to fire.
They look ridiculous.
First of all, it should be no surprise that orange is not a Sooner’s favorite color. Maybe the Pokes don’t like it either, and that’s why they have these gross gray uniforms. But this is not just about the different color uniforms (though I could definitely go on about their Oregon-wanna-be efforts to mix-and-match uniforms).
They also have one of the worst mascots I’ve ever seen.
Aside from the fact that it’s a creepy, slightly sad-looking man staring into your soul, it also looks like it’s made of cheap plastic. I don’t know if the fake hair makes it better or worse, but it certainly looks better than when they tried to give him a marker-drawn beard back in the day. Now they’ve wiped it with a wet paper towel to give him a nice(?) five-o-clock shadow.
You may not even recognize their mascot, though, since he looks pretty much nothing like this mascot they use for their helmets (whose hat has been lazily designed to match the helmet color, making it nearly invisible from afar). It also looks nothing like this guy, who is apparently named “Phantom Pete” as opposed to Pistol Pete. I certainly understand that they may not like any of their mascot choices, but at some point you just have to pick one.
From their jerseys to the helmets to the mascots, I don’t get it. I really don’t.
No love lost
Given the number of times they've played and the dominance with which Oklahoma has controlled the series, it'd be easy to think Oklahoma shouldn't even bother hating the Cowboys. Things might in fact be that way, if OSU didn't keep making it so difficult to get along with them.
In 2013, the Sooners took a late lead with under a minute left, only to cement it on the final play with a fumble returned for a touchdown to give OU a hard-fought victory. That's when an Oklahoma State cheerleader was faced with an interesting question: what do you do, as a cheerleader, when your team has done nothing to cheer about? For him, he turned from exciter of the student section to protector of OSU's wounded pride as he tried to trip Eric Striker in the end zone.
As you can see, he missed. The student section apparently had his back though. Always graceful in defeat, the students began throwing snowballs at some of the Oklahoma players who were just trying to tell them "good game guys! That was close!"
Frankly, no matter what the Sooners were specifically saying, none of that warrants throwing what was essentially ice at a bunch of players. The Cowboys fans are the Oklahoma equivalent of the Toronto Blue Jays fans. The Oklahoman has an article about the incident, which features a full video you can watch here. Other highlights include a blatantly late hit on Striker in the end zone, as well as (according to the author) half-eaten turkey legs being thrown at players, as well.
How many losses do they have?
Currently, the teams slotted to make the College Football Playoffs are the only Power 5 teams with either no losses or one loss. Except, according to Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State should be considered a one-loss team, too. What he's referring to, of course, is a controversial loss to Central Michigan early in the year. Gundy's point is that the play at the end of the game shouldn't have happened. While technically he's right, and it makes sense that he'd jockey for a better ranking for his team, his argument is really absurd.
I'll give him the fact that the last play shouldn't have counted. What I ask for, in return, is him admitting that the 4th-and-1 conversion Oklahoma State got to take the lead shouldn't have counted after the referees nonsensically picked up a holding flag that should have gone against the Cowboys. The Cowboys' lineman literally tackled his defender. As much as the refs hurt OSU in the game, they also helped them just before that, so I don't want to hear it now.
Also, can you imagine any legitimate football power lobbying to convince people that its loss to a MAC team shouldn't have counted? Oklahoma has played Ball State and Akron over the years, and they've never put themselves in a position where one call could have cost them the game. I've never been on the "fire Bob Stoops" train, but if he was whining about a Ball State loss for an entire season, I'd be done with him.
Home field is one of the biggest advantages in college football. It's a sign of pride for fans that they make the stadium as noisy as possible for opposing squads. One thing I've never respected, though, is artificial noisemakers. Texas Tech and Mississippi State have their cow bells, and Oklahoma State has their Paddle People. After last year, I think it's safe to say that their most infamous member is this guy:
Some stadiums are infamous for loud crowds, but there's nothing cool about needing to use objects to create noise. It takes no extra amount of school pride to bring in whistles, bells, paddles, or bullhorns. Why not just turn the speakers up to eleven? Being loud is cool, but only when the fans are actually being loud and supportive of their team.
Thankfully, the Big 12 agrees with me, and they passed a rule in 2010 banning artificial noisemakers during certain parts of games.
That said, it's always great to see some sad fan halfheartedly beating their paddle during a blow-out.
Thankfully, this year's game will be played in Norman, which is proudly paddle-free since...forever.
Let's not pretend that it's cool to have a mullet in 2016.
ESPN has an article about the "swag, mojo, power and glory" of Gundy's hairdo, which you can find here if you're really interested. Even Bob Stoops has come out in support of the mullet, but I suspect that's just his professionalism that he never really says anything bad about other teams or coaches. Luckily, I have no such professionalism. The mullet is as terrible now as it was in the 80’s.
It's just one of many reasons that I hope Saturday is a game that breaks the Pokes' Achy Breaky Hearts.
I know this isn’t an exhaustive list, so if I missed some good reasons, feel free to let me know in the comment section. Boomer Sooner.