Ranking the Greatest All-Time Traditions in Oklahoma Football History
It's time to move on from the Sooners' disappointing loss against Texas Tech this past weekend and focus on the brighter spots of Oklahoma football.
This could mean this weekend's upcoming game against Kansas State, the possibility of winning another Big 12 championship, or maybe just a reflection of the tradition of the university and the football program as a whole.
For the purposes of this article, I think we'll go with latter.
The Oklahoma Sooners are one of the most historic football programs in NCAA history. They have an all-time .717 winning percentage with a record of 812-304-53.
They have seven national titles and 43 conference titles. Furthermore, the Sooners have also had five Heisman Trophy winners and 74 consensus All-Americans.
They are a storied program, that's for sure, but how many people know about the traditions that make OU football what it is today?
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The Sooner Schooner is the most infamous tradition at the University of Oklahoma. The Schooner acts as the official mascot of every sports team at the university.
To quote its Wikipedia page:
Pulled by two white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, it is a scaled-down replica of the Conestoga wagon used by settlers of the Oklahoma Territory around the time of the Land Run of 1889. Its name comes from the common term for such wagons ("prairie schooners") and the name for settlers who snuck into the Territory before it was officially opened for settlement ("Sooners").
After making its debut at Owen Field in 1968, the Schooner is brought onto the field following every Sooner score. It is driven by a member of the RUF/NEKS, which is the university's all-male spirit organization.
It's also tradition for the RUF/NEK queen to sit beside the driver as the Schooner is driven out onto the field and then back into the tunnel.
To honor the tradition of the Schooner, a giant replica has been placed in the student union in the appropriately named "Schooner Room."
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Burns
"The Chant" is the alma mater of the university. It is played before football games and other large campus events, such as commencement.
It was written in 1936 by Jessie Lone Clarkson Gilkey. Gilkey coached the OU girl's glee club from 1936 to 1938.
The chant is played by the Pride of Oklahoma and sung by fans and alumni in attendance. During the chant, fans are known to put one finger in the air (as shown in the picture) to recognize the Sooners' status as the No. 1 team/university.
Here are the words to the chant:
Our chant rolls on and on!
Join heart and song
In alma mater's praise
Of campus beautiful by day and night
Of colors proudly gleaming Red and White
'Neath a western sky
OU's chant will never die.
Live on University!
The chant is sung slowly, almost in a somber tone. It's a beautiful chant that has been a tradition at OU for over 70 years.
Let me preface this slide by first acknowledging the video: This is how every home game begins.
While the teams are warming up, the cheerleaders are doing their best job of firing up the crowd. The chant of "boomer" comes from one side of the stadium, while the opposite side follows with the chant of "sooner."
This goes on for quite awhile, and as you can tell in the video, it gets super loud. Not only does this fire up the crowd and the players, but it's meant to act as means of intimidation to opposing teams.
Now, let's get down to the real meaning behind "Boomer Sooner," which happens to be Oklahoma's fight song. It was written by Arthur Alden in 1905 and the tune is taken from Yale's fight song, "Boola Boola."
On a rough estimate, the fight song is played around 238 times each game. Okay, that might be a bit of a hyperbole, but it is played a lot. As in, every time there's a big play or a touchdown, and when the Sooners take the field.
Because it is used so much and has been around for so long, "Boomer Sooner" is one of the richest traditions in Oklahoma football history.
Red River Rivalry
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The Red River Rivalry is the official name for the game that takes place every year between Oklahoma and Texas. Until 2005, the game was known as the Red River Shootout, but the name was changed due to "Shootout" condoning gun violence.
This rivalry has been going on since 1900, and it has been played in Dallas, TX since 1912. Since 1932, the game has taken place at the Cotton Bowl during the time of the Texas State Fair.
The site was chosen because it is almost directly halfway between Norman, OK and Austin, TX, which gives each team a great opportunity to have their fans attend the game.
The stands are an even 50-50 split in terms of OU and Texas fans, as the stadium is divided on the 50 yard line.
Since the rivalry began, Texas has gotten the best of Oklahoma, winning 59 games to Oklahoma's 42. There have also been five ties in the series.
This is easily the biggest game of the year for both teams, as fans gather in Dallas the entire weekend to celebrate the rivalry. Instead of having a "true" fall break, the University of Oklahoma gives students the Friday before the game off in order to drive down and support the football team.
The night before the game is crazy, as fans from each school gather in downtown Dallas, normally in the West End. This basically results in a shouting match between the two school's fans for the entirety of the night, normally ending with many arrests.
There were nearly 50 arrests made the night before the game in 2010. Needless to say, it gets a little crazy.
The Seed Sower
The "Seed Sower" is a giant statue located on the university's south oval. It is positioned between the student dormitories and the south oval classrooms.
The statue is modeled after the university's first president, David Ross Boyd. During his first 18 months as president, Boyd planted nearly 10,000 trees on campus. He bought all the trees with his own money and has become a sort of legend on the OU campus because of his gracious act.
The Seed Sower also acts as a metaphor for students attending the school. The sower plants the seeds, much like the university plants the seeds of knowledge students obtain during their time spent in Norman. Together, the sower and the university help the students grow and realize their potential.
For as long as I've been a student at the university, it has been tradition to dress up the sower in accordance to campus activities and football prowess. For example, the sower gets dressed in OU colors and clothes during homecoming week, and he gets a cap and gown for graduation.
When the Sooners go to a bowl game, the sower is normally garnished with something to represent which bowl game the team is playing in. In the picture above, the sower's bag is filled with oranges. This was taken in 2005 when the Sooners played the USC Trojans in the Orange Bowl.