NORMAN — The victorious Oklahoma Sooners returned to a hero’s welcome Friday afternoon on the University of Oklahoma campus.
More than 350 fans lined up in front of the Barry Switzer Center to greet the 2014 Sugar Bowl champions after the 45-31 victory over No. 3 Alabama Thursday night in New Orleans.
Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops took to the microphone to thank the fans and get one last friendly jab in at those doubters who didn’t think OU could compete with the defending two-time national champions from the SEC.
“No one thought we could win,” Stoops said. “I absolutely got the biggest kick out of when they (ESPN) first showed the map of the United States and who believed Oklahoma could beat Alabama. There was one state who believed and that was you guys. Thank you. ... So much for the big bad wolf.”
Even though classes at the University of Oklahoma do not start back until Jan. 13, the campus was bombarded with vehicles from around the state. That included Ryan Crowe and his 7- year old son Matthew came from Ada.
“It was awesome,” Ryan Crowe said. “Feels like we are at a game right now. There’s so much going on. We were just glad to be here. We drove an hour and a half to get here. But that’s nothing. We would have drove five hours to be here.”
After arriving on their buses from the airport, the Oklahoma coaches and players walked through two lines of fans into the Switzer center. The song “Pour Some Sugar on Me” blared from the loudspeakers as fans screamed, took pictures and gave high fives to the proud players.
“We are huge OU fans,” said Donya Jones who was there along with her daughter Patricia. “We were amazed at the game and so excited. Patricia absolutely insisted that we come on down. We just really wanted to show our support. And the energy you get from everybody, we couldn’t pass it up.”
Not all of the players were on hand for the welcome. Sugar Bowl MVP Trevor Knight could not be found among the players who climbed out of the charter buses.
However, All-American center Gave Ikard was and said the fact the majority of the country doubted the Sooners could win made the victory that much sweeter.
“It’s a great feeling,” Ikard said. “Great way to end the year. Really happy for the seniors and myself. Couldn’t ask for a better way to end a college football career. We saw the map. That’s what that Oklahoma education will do for you. It makes people a lot smarter than other places I guess. Nobody thought we were going to win. We understood everyone thought we were going to get blown out. We really didn’t care what anyone else thought.”
Ikard wanted to soak up every last moment of his career with the Sooners. The victory walk through the fans may have been the icing on the cake for him.
“It was awesome,” Ikard said. “Never had something like this before. I think the fans were just extremely excited about the win, just like we were. They are out here showing their appreciation in this chilly weather. It was fantastic. We have the best fans in the country. For that to be my last memory as a player here, that’s something I’m very thankful for and I will hold dear for a long time.”
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