The Norman Transcript

September 29, 2013

OU fans hit the road, savor tradition and victory in South Bend

By Michael Kinney
The Norman Transcript

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Geoff Potts was easy to spot. Even as he stood in the common at the University of Notre Dame surrounded by hundreds of Irish fans, the Norman native could not be missed wearing a crimson jacket and pants combination with the hat and tie to match.

However, Potts didn’t travel from Oklahoma to South Bend, IN. just to showcase his fashion sense. Seeing his Sooners take on the Irish on the historic Notre Dame campus was an event he didn’t want to miss.

“This is the second time I’ve been here,” Potts said. “I came here in 1999. Anybody who knows about college football knows the tradition of Notre Dame. Best college football program tradition of all programs.”

An estimated 20,000 Oklahoma fans piled into Notre Dame’s 80,000 seat stadium to watch the Sooners defeat the Irish 35-21 Saturday. It was a complete turn around from the beating Notre Dame handed OU in 2012 in Norman.

But more than just seeing Oklahoma get revenge, fans came to South Bend for the

experience. Unlike almost any other program in the country, Notre Dame has a sense his history and tradition that adds to the mystic of the team.

“It’s tradition,” Norman City Councilman Robert Castleberry said. “You have two of the greatest traditions in college football. Never been up here. Didn’t get a chance to come up here in 1999. So I wanted to come up here and bring my son (Colton) up here and kind of tour Notre Dame.”

Castleberry said he grew up in Nebraska and some of his fondest memories as a child was being taken to games between the Cornhuskers and Sooners. He wants this experience to be the same for his son.

“It’s very special,” Castleberry said. “I hope this is one of them memories he has the rest of his life.”

OU alum Mike Steltenkamp missed the last time the Sooners visited Notre Dame in 1999. Despite living in Pensacola, Fla., there was nothing that was going to keep him from this opportunity that may not come again in his lifetime.

“It’s a good OU turnout,” Stelenkamp said. “Great to be in a great college football atmosphere. It’s probably more special than other games. There is a lot at stake for both universities. OU in particular considering the history and past. And all the legends that played a part in this game. It makes it extra special.”

Chad Stough, a self described lifelong Sooner fan, came from Tulsa with his wife to see the game. But before kick-off the two toured the campus and took in the sights.

Even though the two teams have only played three times since 1999 and 11 times overall, Stough considers it one of the Sooners most important rivalries.

“I put it right up there,” Stough said. “OU Texas is special. But outside of OU Texas, I’d put it No. 1. It’s just really neat. All the tradition. You have touchdown Jesus. W took our picture in front of Touchdown Jesus. Just the tradition sets it apart.”

Notre Dame now holds a 9-2 lead in the series with Oklahoma. Being able to watch the Sooners win was great for Potts. But being able to do it with his dad at Notre Dame made it special.

“My dad didn’t get to come with me last time,” Potts said. “That makes it extra special. We always like to go to different traditional powers. Like to go to their stadium and check them out. It’s all about the experience of having my dad with me. I think this is the top as far as our experiences.”

Michael Kinney

Follow me @eyeamtruth

mkinney@normantranscript.com