OU Sooners versus UT Longhorns
One Wild Rivalry and Great Tradition
Choose the stance. Either pity or envy those with a house divided between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Texas Longhorns on football day. We found ourselves in that predicament when our youngest son headed off to college at the University of Oklahoma. As Texas residents with a long standing history of degrees and undying support among friends and family for the University of Texas, a rivalry was sure to ensue. It did.
At the parent orientation to the University of Oklahoma it was hard to miss the large, permanent lettering on the campus sidewalk that said, “Beat the ___ out of Texas.” Ok, I have to admit something here. As a Texan born and raised, I was a bit taken back. I quickly realized that the rivalry would provide us much merriment and fun while that youngest offspring attended OU. The fun continues today. When OU beats Texas, the “Boomer Sooner” text messages flow freely. “Hook ‘em horns” wins as the comeback when Texas prevails.
About The Red River Rivalry
The official name of the game, the Red River Rivalry, comes from the geographic fact that the Red River forms the boundary between the states of Oklahoma and Texas. The game was called the Red River Shootout until 2005. Not wanting to condone gun violence, the name was changed to the Red River Rivalry.
And a great rivalry indeed it is! The game has NCAA and national significance. Since 1945, one or both of the two teams earned a ranking in the top 25 teams in the nation over 90 percent of the time. Texas holds a slight edge on games won in the competition over the years, but it is close. The Dallas Morning News once asked the Division IA coaches to identify the top rivalry games in college football. The Red River Rivalry ranked number one.
The Geography of It All
As noted above, the Red River majestically separates the states of Texas and Oklahoma. The “Welcome To” and “Now Leaving” signs for the prospective states note the boundary as drivers approach the river on the interstate. The famous football rivalry actually does not take place close to that boundary.
Other than a three year exception in its early years, the infamous game plays in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl on the same weekend as the State Fair of Texas at Fair Park. Dallas presents a neutral location as a venue and the city is roughly halfway between the campuses of OU in Norman, Oklahoma and UT in Austin, Texas. As the stadium seating was limited at the Cotton Bowl, both teams talked of moving the game to their own campus stadiums, alternating the years. The City of Dallas did not want to lose the game, and the seating at the Cotton Bowl was increased and the facility improved. The teams have agreed to keep the competition at the Cotton Bowl through 2015. At that point, the possibility exists that the game would move to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
Fair is Fair in the Red River Rivalry
The proceeds from ticket sales are split equally between the teams. The fans of the two teams are split on the 50 yard line. An abrupt boundary forms between the seas of burnt orange and crimson on that line. A fun tradition is the “running of the ball,” a competition between the ROTC programs of the two schools. A relay running system whisks one game ball all the way from the respective campuses to Dallas. Once there, a football scrimmage is held with the winner taking home bragging honors and a trophy.
The game provides much enjoyment and good spirited fun for us, but the rivalry has its emotional and bitter times. Why is that the case? Border, economic, and cultural differences exist in past dealings between the two states of close proximity. Many players hailing from Texas play for the University of Oklahoma. In fact, when that topic comes up, some would jest at OU merely being “The University of Texas at Norman.” As a comeback, note that the state of Texas is sometimes referenced as “Baja Oklahoma" by Sooner fans,.
I learned that, by the way, at that parent orientation as well. When asked for a show of hands to indicate being an out of state parent, Texas parents were told to not raise their hands as we were considered as just being from southern Oklahoma. Hmm, my retort to that is that I wish the registrar’s office thought that in calculating the charges on “out of state” tuition. I veer off course. Both the University of Oklahoma the University of Texas are great schools with great football teams. Enjoy this infamous rivalry and all the associated fanfare and tradition!