Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
Sooners, Pokes too smart to say goodbye to Bedlam forever, right?
Certainly, in the age of a 12-team playoff, the programs will come to their senses
Note: One of my writing assignments each week during football season is a column appearing in the Saturday “Gameday” section of The Norman Transcript. I hardly ever post that column here, as the lag time between its appearance and the game it previews is very short. Also, it’s typically just not as involved a column as my others, typically topping out around 650 words. This one, though, is different. To accommodate a larger section that appears in multiple papers, the column below was written more than a week ago. Also, it’s a bigger column about the entire rivalry, not just Saturday’s coming game.
I think it works here, today. Enjoy.
Isn’t it great when you remember something from your childhood, something there’s no reason you ought to remember, but you do anyway and you look it up and, holy cow, you remembered it right?
Well, sitting down to ponder the end of Bedlam as we know it, I thought of something.
It was my teenage years, back when I watched every single thing when sports came on television.
I recall sitting down to watch Louisville and Kentucky play some basketball.
What I remember about it is it was absolutely must see television not only because they were two huge programs — Louisville had won the 1980 national championship two years after Kentucky won the ’78 crown — but it had to be watched because, who’d have believed it, the Cardinals and Wildcats had not met in almost 25 years.
That’s what I remember:
In-state rivals and powerhouses who’d not met on the court in almost 25 years.
Could it be true?
Like Roger Clemens, I slightly misremembered.
But it still works for the point I’m about to make.
On March 26, 1983, Kentucky and Louisville met on the basketball court for the first time since March 13, 1959, almost 25 years earlier.
Yet, the game I think I remember came Nov. 26, 1983, the next season, the first time the two teams had met in the regular season since, are you kidding, Jan. 21, 1922.
They’re natural rivals.
They’re the two most important universities in their basketball mad state. And they go half a century without scheduling a game?
Somebody must have said it would be bad for recruiting.
Somebody must have said, “Oh, no, what if we lose.”
Here’s what I hope I know.
Over the next 50 years, the two universities that count the most in this state will be a whole lot smarter than Kentucky’s two over their 50 years of silliness.
I’ve been writing about Bedlam since 1993 and it’s delivered in more ways than you’ve likely ever considered.
Let’s hit some memories.
• In ’95, a 12-0 Poke victory sealed Howard Schnellenberger’s Sooner fate, provided it needed sealing, which it may not have.
• In ’96, John Blake’s first Sooner team offered insane false promise, prevailing 27-17.
• In ’00 Oklahoma State did everything but derail Oklahoma’s national championship dreams, ultimately falling 12-7.
• In ’01 and ’02 the craziest thing happened. Les Miles beat Bob Stoops back to back and I’ve never seen another coach get under Stoops’ skin the way Miles did those seasons and the next one, when OU finally prevailed 52-9.
• In ’08, Sam Bradford turned his body into a helicopter in a 62-42 Stillwater victory, a big win for the BCS title-game bound and third-ranked Sooners and a reasonable loss for the suddenly back and new on the national scene 11th-ranked Cowboys.
• They went OT in ’12 and ’14 both, the Sooners winning the first and Stoops deciding, heck, why not punt the ball a second time to the great Tyreek Hill in the second.
• The greatest Bedlam of them all, the Blake Bell game, came in between, in ’13, when, as OU’s third quarterback, following Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson, Bell came in and threw for a quick 140 yards, including the game-winning touchdown to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds remaining. Only because the Sooners picked up a Poke lateral, returning it to the end zone, on the Cowboys’ final snap, was the final score a very misleading 33-24.
• Two years ago, in ’21, OSU helped push Lincon Riley to Southern Cal, and Sooner fans could not be more happy about it now.
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Engaging with the rivalry for so long, having to find interesting tidbits about it year after year, has been a pleasure.
• Like, did you know the ’43 and ’44 games were played in Oklahoma City at Taft Stadium?
There was a war on, yes, but Taft Stadium?
• The first one was played in Guthrie, on Nov. 5, 1904.
• Though OU’s dominated the series, it didn’t from ’29 to ’34, when OSU won three times, the two teams tied three times and OU scored seven points, total, between all six games.
• OSU shut out OU in Norman, 47-0, in ’45. OU shut out OSU 53-0 in ’55 and ’56, the first in Stillwater and the next in Norman.
The breakup’s coming in a golden age of Bedlam, when both teams tend to be ranked winning programs and the game matters much.
It’s a lot to let go.
OSU may take longer to come back to the table.
OU, after all, is responsible for the breakup, secretly planning its SEC bolt.
But it shouldn’t last forever, especially in the age of a 12-team playoff, when a Bedlam loss will still push strength of schedule for the loser and a Bedlam victory could be the difference in reaching the playoff or hosting a playoff game once the bracket’s expanded for the winner.
Certainly, the series will eventually be revived.
It must be.
It ain’t Kentucky.