"I want a university the football team can be proud of." — George Lynn Cross, OU President, 1943-1968
Welcome to Oklahoma Football. Welcome to the program that John A. Harts started in 1895. Welcome to the program that Bennie Owen started in earnest. Welcome to the program that Jim Tatum abandoned and Charles Burnham "Bud" Wilkinson turned into a legend.
Welcome to the program where the son of a bootlegger, Barry Switzer, perfected the Wishbone Offense and made it into the most prolific rushing offense in college football history. Welcome to the program that Robert "Bob" Anthony Stoops resurrected. Welcome to the football team that an entire state can be proud of.
As the saying goes, I am Sooner-born and Sooner-bred. Both sides of my family are die-hard Sooner fans. Some of my first clothes were crimson and cream. My father has the same season tickets that his father had. I was destined to be a Sooner fan from the moment of birth.
But that's not the only reason I am a fan—far from it, in fact. There are many reasons that I am proud to call myself an Oklahoma Sooner football fan.
Started in 1895 by John A. Harts, the program has seen its share of history over the past 114 seasons. It has seen its share of victories (779 wins to date) and its share of defeats (295).
It has created records, such as the 47-game win streak from 1953 to 1957. It has had 21 different men at the helm, some good and some we'd rather forget.
It has created winners (four Heisman trophy, five Outland trophy, four Butkus award, three Lombardi award, and three Thorpe award winners). It has become the No. 1 program in the modern era of college football (535-163-13).
The football program at Oklahoma is not just important to the university. Over the decades it has become important to the entire state.
Begun before there even was a state of Oklahoma (the state was created in 1907), the university was only minimally supported until after 1945. Part of the reason for that was the constant run of bad luck that the residents of Oklahoma had had.
Between the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, the stock market crash of 1929 and subsequent Great Depression, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, and then World War II, the then-agricultural communities of Oklahoma had begun to lose all hope in the future.
Many left for the West Coast in search of better lives. Many young men never returned from war. But at the end of that war, the University of Oklahoma promoted Bud Wilkinson to the post of head football coach and began to rebuild the program.
Under his leadership from 1947 to 1963, he not only created some of the most enduring records in college football—he gave the residents of the great state of Oklahoma something to believe in. Now these beleaguered people had a reason to feel pride.
At times, "their warriors" were unstoppable. There was money flowing back into the state. Good recruits were coming in from all over the nation. Oklahoma football not only created history—it created hope.
That feeling still lives on today. Especially in the Bob Stoops era, Oklahoma football gives us one more reason to be proud of the state of Oklahoma.
Sometimes it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. Granted, there are moments in the history of Oklahoma football that fans would rather forget.
There are players who have been better off in jail than on the football field. There are incidents swept under the rug for the sake of winning games.
While these things happen at every program around the nation, one thing that all Sooner fans can take pride in is that those things are highly discouraged at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops.
One has only to look at the Rhett Bomar/J.D. Quinn incident in 2006 to see that, or the situation with Josh Jarboe this season. The players are expected to follow the team and NCAA rules and regulations without fail if they wish to play for the team.
When players follow those rules, they can play. The situation with Dusty Dvoracek in 2004 and 2005 is a great example. The football program at Oklahoma is like a person who is always honest—you can always hold your head up high knowing that you have nothing to hide.
These are just some of the reasons that one can be proud of being called an Oklahoma Sooner fan. Given everything there is about Oklahoma football, it is hard not to be proud. While the program is not perfect, they strive each season towards that goal—just as we all strive to do in our daily lives.