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October 24, 2012

Was I partly to blame for loss 55 years ago?

NORMAN — Fifty-five years ago, Notre Dame University sent a football team to Norman determined to avenge the lopsided loss they suffered in South Bend the year before and end OU’s 47-game winning streak.

While we all know how that came out, a couple of footnotes should be added.

In those times, OU fielded eight cheerleaders and one “mascot,” traditionally a Native American student elected from and by the student body. Each undergraduate class elected two students, one boy and one girl, to serve for four years.

That year, the senior female cheerleader was the basketball coach’s daughter, Donna Drake (Pendarvis). The mascot, known as “Little Red,” was Carl Ponca, a full-blood (duh) Ponca.

I was one of two bass drummers in the “Pride,” which was an unofficial cheering squad for the team. I personally was blamed by the Colorado football coach for rendering their late fourth-quarter drive signals inaudible and causing them to lose by about five points in the 47th game in our win streak.

I told Coach Wilkinson that I didn’t win the game for him, and he replied, “I know d— good and well you didn’t.”

Nevertheless, NCAA rules were later added so that bands, especially drums, couldn’t play during clock time in games.

Anyway, when Donna went to the band director, Mr. Haug, and asked him to send me to the sideline to play tom-tom for Carl’s “war dances,” the band lost some of its cheering volume and spirit.

I always thought, thereafter, that Carl, Donna and I were partly to blame for the loss: Donna for making the band quieter, me for being uncomfortable on the sideline, and Carl for adding some rain dance steps, which brought on the cloud bank that captured the sky midway through the fourth quarter during the late drive that made the score 0-7.

David Miller was a member of the Pride of Oklahoma band from 1956 to 1961.

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