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Behind Enemy Lines: Oklahoma

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On site at the Tech game Norman... my take on the history, pageantry, students and fans of the University of Oklahoma

Nikopoia

There were a lot of things going on at the game in Norman yesterday and not all of them good. It wasn't the chilly air or overcast sky that made it rought, nor the outcome of the game, but before Tech fans think I'm a traitor (yes OU fans, its spelled "traitor", not "trader") and OU fans think I'm biased, let's just start with a disclaimer for both sides here.

Texas Tech Disclaimer:

I'm a Texas Tech grad, class of 2007 with an International Business Degree. Ok moving on.

Oklahoma Disclaimer:

I spent some important years of my childhood growing up in Midwest City, Oklahoma. On top of some life-long friends, I also found my love for college football. From 1993 to 1995 my family had season tickets to Oklahoma Football. It wasn't hard back then with Howard Schnellenberger as Head Coach and then followed up by Jon Blake. It was my first experience of a college campus and of LIVE college football. I was hooked. I stayed hooked even into my time at Tech as it was just hard to let over 10 years of cheering for a team go. Though I have a bunch of friends and some people I consider family who went to the University of Oklahoma or are OU fans, the fandom I had quickly faded and Tech has taken over. I know my OU history, especially from 1993 on... and probably know more about OU football than some writers over at CCM, but we'll get to that later.

A Day in Norman

I love my Oklahoma family. They allow me to get tickets to the Tech games in Norman every other year and I have the right of first refusal. I love them like I would love my flesh and blood. They are alums of Oklahoma and live near Norman and are some of the most caring and nice people I've ever met and in my experience they were the perfect representative of the University and of its fans as a whole.

My return trips to OU started in 2004. A sunny day in the north endzone surrounded by great people who were kind, personable and more important, understood the game in front of them. In 2004 it was a close game, 28-13. When Adrian Peterson went down with an ankle injury, the stadium fell silent. The OU sign of #1, index fingers went into the air and the stadium applauded when he got up. The same was done as a sign of respect to opposing teams for their injured players. Tech has a similar tradition for both Tech players and opposing players. 

11 years have passed and on a chilly, overcast day, Oklahoma fans didn't seem to remember that tradition. It was noticeable on the first play of the game when Zack Sanchez, OU's best cover corner, went down with an apparent leg injury. Only the student section seemed to have their index fingers in the air as a sign of support. I took it as strange. Since 1993 I've been seeing games from these same seats, seen the way Oklahoma fans treat their players and opposing fans and this was NEW.

Throughout the first half, Oklahoma players went down with injuries and cramps while trying to keep up with Tech's fast paced play calling, none of which seemed suspect. And likewise, as the game went on, Tech too had their issues with injuries. Especially in the second half as Oklahoma was milking the clock, Tech players had trouble getting out of piles without feeling a tweak. From Bethel looking like he got knocked out to Alston getting his ankle rolled on in a pile... the attitude of Oklahoma fans was bad.

Never before have I seen Oklahoma fans openly boo a player for being hurt while he's down and boo even louder when he is helped off the field. This is two fold. One, it shows a compete lack of respect. Two, it show a complete lack of understanding on how the game of football is played and what is required by these players. SoonerJBD, recently posted in the comments of our site "What has Tech done to make OU respect them?" Well first of all kiddo, respect is given, never earned. You're mistaking Respect with Trust. Tech can beat OU more times than any Big 12 team, outside of Texas since 2005, but until you actually give the respect, it doesn't mean a thing.

Moreover, the physical nature of football isn't based in a video game. A hit might not seem like much, but it has a lasting effect depending on how the body responds. Oklahoma fans were also fine with an elbow thrown by an OU running back after a score, but wanted a flag on Tech for being in position and breaking up a pass. No it was not pass interference.

Tech fans may not like OU or Mayfield. But we do understand that these players have to go to class on Monday. That injuries sustained in a game, don't just carry over to the next week, but are a daily struggle in class, difficulty sleeping, surgeries, mobility, etc. Granted, not all fans are great, but I've never heard an injured player get booed. At least with it being such a small majority that it was strongly rebuked by the majority.

Before The Game

Again, there are always bad fans. Normally, I walk around and find good people tailgating and talk about the game. The majority are nice and friendly. We share our stories, where we are from and what we look forward to in the game. While walking the campus, I ran into a Tech student who was hanging out with some of her OU friends. It was a great example of two schools and cultures coming together and putting each other before the game. No dissing, no put downs, just friendly banter about who is going to need the free samples of Pepto, that were being passed out, more.

Regardless of the bad fans, its always a fun time in Norman. Tech has played close most of the time, but we've only came away with 1 win, in 2011. It's good see the pageantry and fall colors and with the stadium feeling like it's on campus really adds to the feeling that THIS is college football. The differences between Norman and Lubbock are far and wide. Norman and OU in general feel like it should be in the Big 10. Traditional Powerhouse with all the trimmings. Where as Lubbock and Tech feel like they should be in the PAC 12. Flashy, dangerous and unpredictable.

Student Section

The Oklahoma Student section leaves a lot to be desired. They have the Roughnecks, we have the Saddle Tramps. Our student body dresses like pirates and undead warriors... their's wear capes and headgear. A few years ago it was a shark on the top of their heads... this year, a chef hat with "Baker" written on it. You wouldn't believe the ovation for Baker during the very dramatic intro.  But yeah... chef hats? Enough said. Moving on.

The Game

The game was good in the first half. The offense wasn't good, but the defense kept us in the game. Wasn't the result we would have liked, but it wasn't really unexpected.

All in all, bad fans give every fan base a bad name. There are a bunch who think Tech fans are bad. The best way to conduct yourself, is be courteous, be rowdy, but most of all... be respectful. Don't forget that these are 18 and 20 year olds who have to go to class. We have made sports such a priority that we forget these kids are more than just means to a win and prestige for our school. 

I can't stand OU. But I love the people. Well, most of them.

Early this week, our sister site, Crimson and Cream Machine, didn't really think our take on the game was realistic. Here is what was said...

VTM: The majority opinion is that if OU wins, Mayfield won't have a huge part. It'll be mainly a game like last year where OU tries to wear down Tech via the running game and pull away late. How do you see this game unfolding?

CCM: If Mayfield doesn't have a huge part in what Oklahoma's offense does on Saturday then something went drastically wrong. I wouldn't assume that the Sooners are going to change what they do offensively to the extent where they take the ball out of the hands of one of their biggest playmakers.

Keep in mind that Oklahoma's offense limped in to Lubbock last year and were depleted in personnel, particularly in the passing game. With Texas Tech coming in dead last in the conference in run defense I would expect Perine and Joe Mixon to have some success but this offense has been pass first from game one this season and I would be really surprised if that changed.

They must be really surprised. Looks like those Sooner fans don't know a whole lot about their team does it? Doesn't take much to hand the ball off to two stud running backs. However, "Football IQ" isn't trait OU fans are normally said to have.

Tech and OU is a rivalry. Its a big game no matter what some OU fans will say. The rivalry has seen better days, but the tide is turning. Get ready because big things are right around the corner.

See you in 2016, Norman. It's always fun.

Wreck'em!