The Norman Transcript

Sports

October 30, 2005

Winning always the best tradition

Sports Editor Clay Horning on OU-Nebraska

History will not record Oklahoma’s 31-24 victory over Nebraska as anything, well, historic.

The Big Red Rivalry has gone from a yearly battle to reach the Orange Bowl, with a conference and national championships very often in the balance, to what can only be called a nostalgia tour.

Gary Thorne and Ed Cunningham, calling the game for ABC, were hamming it up with Barry Switzer and Tom Osborne in their television booth as the game played below. The Lincoln PBS station, the night before, was rerunning the Game of the Century.

As Thorne explained during the broadcast, highlights of the historic series served as bumper video between drills during the Huskers’ week of practice. And Tuesday, during his weekly media luncheon, Bob Stoops spent nearly as much time talking about his committtment to educating the Sooners on the rivalry’s past as he did about preparing for its present.

So it’s always a good story when Oklahoma and Nebraska meet.

But don’t take it too far.

It’s not like absence has made the rivalry grow fonder.

When they took the every-yearness out of it, or maybe when they took Switzer and Osborne out of it, it ceased being everything it used to be.

Just don’t tell the Sooners.

Because Stoops has not only proved himself expert in embracing the football traditions that live on in this town, Saturday, or so it seemed, he proved himself expert at embracing and, indeed, selling his team on a tradition running on fumes at best.

Whatever works.

My personal favorite ode to tradition Stoops ever pulled came at the 2000 Orange Bowl, when after his 25th game as Sooner coach, he made it sound like he’d been around when J.C. Watts beat Florida State, for the rematch with Nebraska and the night JoePa and the Nittany Lions went down and Switzer claimed his third national championship.

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