You showed up and you showed out.
You were loud and proud.
You created an incredible atmosphere
I can only speak for myself, but I am confident that I speak for everyone associated with the team when I say that your support was felt and appreciated. The false starts, delay of games, and communication issues that the Buckeyes felt were because of YOU.
You did your part. We didn’t do ours.
We didn’t play with the focus, precision, and passion that it takes to be a championship level team like Ohio St.
I say “we” because I absolutely cannot place blame unless I am claiming it for myself. I may not be on the roster, but I cannot help but still feel very connected to this group of guys.
Brotherhood doesn’t graduate.
My only strategy for the placement of blame has always been to own it, and to get back to work. But in my current position, I have little to no effect on the outcome of the game, and I have no work to get back to. My only outlet is now to talk about it.
Please understand this. I could try to dissect this game and tell you what I saw on film, and then try to analyze it looking to place the blame on certain players and coaches, but I’m just not going to do that. At no point am I ever going to turn on people that are family to me. Some might argue that it is my duty to share an unbiased opinion with the fans and public, but I counter that I do not consider myself a member of the media, and I feel no such obligation.
But I will tell you this: What happened was unacceptable and embarrassing, and it cannot happen again. The Buckeyes beat us in every facet of the game. I think any member of the Sooner football team would admit that. But now all we can do is work. Work to get better. One day at a time. In times like these, character is revealed and leadership is tested. We now get to find out what this team is made of.
The Student Section
You were spectacular!
You answered my call and then some!
You showed up two hours early with infectious attitude and energy.
Then the storms rolled in. They told you to vacate your seats, and you refused.
At that time, I myself was hunkered down in the equipment room, dry and sheltered from the storm, munching on trail mix and watching the games on TV. When I heard that you all wouldn’t leave, I had an attack of conscience. I called you out. I told you to get there early. And now you were braving a torrential downpour, while I was hiding inside in my pretty little suit and tie. So, in a stunning display of stupidity and recklessness, I ran out into the rain and stood there with you, tie and all. The next few hours will go down as one of my most special moments at OU. You all welcomed me with open arms, and I got a chance to cheer on my beloved Sooners from a completely new perspective. We sang Boomer Sooner, Oklahoma, the OU Chant, and the National Anthem standing there in the blistering rain. We harassed JT Barrett, Malik Hooker, and the rest of the Bucks from the moment they took the field. They may have beaten us, but they still wore rain jackets into warm-up, while you guys had been standing through a monsoon for hours. The Bucks aint got nothin’ on y’all! Thank you for your attitude and your energy!
Food for Thought
I sit here and I don’t no what to say. I have no excuses. No answers for you. No defenses of what happened to my boys. You’re angry, upset, and disappointed. You have every right to be. These coaches are paid extremely well and they didn’t deliver. These players are offered full scholarships and they didn’t perform. I am neither denying that fact nor asking for forgiveness on their behalf. But I do ask, rather than just viewing them as paychecks and scholarships, that you remember that they are people just like you, and that they care deeply about this university and bust their tails every single day to live up to the expectations placed upon them. I can’t speak for the players and coaches. I can’t tell you the fans how to feel. But what I can do is tell you about me. About how I have felt in moments like these.
Friday Night Lights
My bedroom window was above the garage at 2113 Oakdale Dr., and it faced the street. On normal days, it served as a fantastic vantage point for people watching, which I have always loved to do. But on the not-so-normal days, on the Saturdays after the Valdosta Wildcats lost a football game, that window served a different purpose. On those days, I would wake up a little early, roll over, and peek out the window, searching the yard for “For Sale” signs. I’d hustle downstairs and go pick them out of the yard, folding them up and jamming them into the trash before my parents could see them. My purposes were not entirely altruistic. Sure, I didn’t want my parents to get their feelings hurt by the obvious message the signs were meant to convey, but there was something else. I really liked Valdosta. I liked my friends there. I didn’t want to leave. And those “For Sale” signs acted as a reminder that our family’s time there was coming to a close, either on our terms or on theirs. I was just a kid that didn’t want to have my life snatched away from me because of what happened on a football field.
In that moment, I was 12 years old. My dad was the head football coach at Valdosta High School. Winnersville, USA. 23 State Championships. Over 800 wins. Losses there are mourned like the death of a loved one taken far too soon. Despite the considerable success he experienced, my dad’s losses mounted over time, and he was fired halfway into his third season. In our short stint there, in addition to the yard signs, my dad’s truck got egged, and our big Wildcat flag was stolen. At my elementary school, I had to defend my dad and his playcalling to classmates, and even to some of their parents as well. During those years, being a coach’s kid wasn’t a whole lot of fun.
What I learned in this moment is that coaching is hard for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with a football, and that people can be petty and cruel. We have a Hall of Fame football coach here at OU that has passed up many other opportunities out of loyalty to us, and he has an incredible family that has given so much to this community. All of these coaches may have come up short, but it wasn’t for lack of preparation. Before you say something hateful about either of the Stoops, or Lincoln Riley, or any of the rest of the staff, pause to remember that. You can be critical and concerned without being hateful and ignorant.
“I let them down”
I’ve been experiencing football seasons since birth, and only one time have I ever cried after a regular season game, and it’s not a game that you’d expect.
Kansas State. 2014.
I cried because it shattered a dream. In May, I was standing on a beach in Haiti with 15 of my brothers, and we prayed together that God would let us win a national championship so that we could give the glory back to him. In August, I walked the perimeter of Owen Field with Nila Kasitati and Trevor Knight, praying that God would bless our steps on that ground. In October, I was sifting through a crowd of victorious TCU fans, head down, but knowing that we could still accomplish our dream. A few weeks later, we lost our second game. In that moment I knew that we had lost any realistic chance at achieving that dream, and that we had let down all of Sooner Nation. The weight of those combined realizations was enormous, and I simply broke down. That game was a day-game, but that night I returned to the field, and I sat against the wall in the south end zone. I just sat there, gazing out at the field for what seemed like an endless period of time, contemplating our failure.
You know the rest of the story. It didn’t get any better. Two losses turned into three. Three into four. Four into five, the fifth being a 40-6 blowout in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Words don’t really do it justice. Humiliation. Embarrassment. Shame. Guilt. I know that you the fans think that you care a lot, and you do. You live and die with the team. You probably even wonder sometimes if you care more than the players do. I admire your devotion, but you can never understand what it feels like. You don’t know what it feels like to know that you just let 85,000 people down. You can’t imagine what it feels like to realize you failed to live up to the standard of greatness that was set by thousands of men long before you were even born. You will never know the agony of failing to uphold a tradition that is so much bigger than you. You don’t know, and you don’t want to know. Take my word for it: it’s miserable. The University of Oklahoma has been playing football for well over a hundred years, and I truly believe that the 2014 Sooner football team was The Most Disappointing Team in the History of Oklahoma Football. What a title to have attached to your name. Thankfully, I got another chance to rewrite my legacy in 2015.
My only point here is that this is awful for the players, and that they take a personal responsibility when this happens. Not all of them care as much as I did, but a lot of them care every bit as much. In the deserved outrage and indignation, remember that these are 18-22 year old young men that are experiencing these amplified levels of disappointment, embarrassment, and guilt for quite possibly the first time in their lives. I have no choice but to believe that these guys will bounce back and get better. But they need you now more than ever! I urge you to show them support and help get them back on the right track. The loss does not nullify the message that I sent out last week: We still need you. The next time we see you back in Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, it will be with a winning record and a newfound fire! Thank you for your undying support of your Oklahoma Sooners!
Sooner born and Sooner bred and when I die I’m Sooner dead