2011 released the demons. Can 2012 make them regular residents in Norman?
My family has been immersed in OSU for as long as I can remember.
My parents both graduated from Stillwater when it was still A&M. My siblings and I all attended, and some graduated, from OSU.
I grew up attending almost all the home games in the 70's and early 80's. Made annual road trips to Arkansas, Kansas, or Nebraska.
But one game that never got all that much attention was Bedlam. I wondered why. I know it was generally a blowout, but I still got excited about it and hoped every year that maybe, just maybe, the lightning that would normally strike OSU would somehow find the Sooners.
In 1976 I found out why.
The Cowboys had a pretty good team. Dad bought two tickets to the game in Norman. I was psyched, but puzzled. Why did he only buy two tickets? After all, Mom was a more rabid fan than him. When I asked the question, the answer that came back has stuck with me like it was yesterday.
The year was 1965.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys had never defeated the Sooners. The last time OU lost to their in-state rival (1945), they were known as the Oklahoma A&M Aggies. Bob Fenimore was the man.
That season was no different than most others. OSU was on it's way to another losing season in a decade where they would NOT record a single winning record.
The catch was that the 60's weren't that kind to the Sooners either, relatively speaking. OU was on its way to posting a third season without a winning record in that decade.
Still, they were the Sooners, and the game was in Norman.
Mom, Dad, and my oldest sister made the trek that day...Saturday, Dec 4, 1965. Mom took something to help her calm down.
It was a low scoring game. They sat near the OU band.
At the end of the game, the Sooners had the ball and a chance to kick a relatively short FG to win the game. My Mom refused to watch. She bent over in her seat and pulled her coat over her head.
Lighting struck the Sooners. OU missed.
The OSU crowd's response was such that Mom thought our hated rival had made the FG and won the game.
Mom was sobbing hysterically under her coat. Dad couldn't pull the coat off of her. He was patting her on the back yelling "FOR HEAVENS SAKE, MARILYNN, WE WON!!"
It took a fair amount of the car ride home to convince her of the outcome.
She swore that she would never again attend a Bedlam game, and she hasn't.
Plenty of games have been watched, scores followed. But never in person.
The seeds of Bedlam "hate" run deep in my blood.
Back to 1976. I was 14. I was about to see my first Bedlam game in person.
Only I didn't.
My second oldest sister decided to get married October 23, 1976, in Atlanta.
Those were the days of one college football game on Saturday, with Keith Jackson painting the picture. Scores of other games? Not so frequently scrolled across the bottom of the screen.
We were preparing for the wedding. The score progressed. 24-21 OU...28-24 OSU...
The wait was agonizing. Parents were yelling at me because I wouldn't finished getting dressed. I was jumping back and forth between the beds in the hotel room waiting for the score to pop up again, and we all were waiting to see 31-28 in favor of OU.
Then we saw it.
31....24?? Final??? Wait, OSU won???? OSU WON!!! OSU WON!!! I'm screaming at the top of my lungs.
Bedlam life since then is littered with joy and disappointment...well, lots of disappointment. Uncovered kickoffs...crazy bounces...Sooner magic SUCKED. I was in Norman in 1980 when Switzer put the starting defense back in the game, up 63-0, to try and keep OSU from scoring. We scored anyway.
I remember well 1988 in a hotel room in Los Angeles with my parents, along with my life long best friend and his parents...who were Sooners...
The simultaneous joy and agony of "The Drop" was incomprehensible.
When Barry left for the NFL, I drifted away. My first wife wasn't so enamored with, and had very little tolerance for, such trivial excitement. I have absolutely NO memories of OSU football in the 90's, which stinks because the Cowboys actually beat OU three times.
But for some reason I decided to tune in on that Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, 2001.
I was pulled back into the fold. 2002 cemented it.
This wasn't my Mother's Bedlam anymore.
That doesn't mean OSU was winning every year. In fact, as we all know, OU reasserted its dominance.
But the attitude had changed in Stillwater. We could all feel it. It was only a matter of time.
For the first time since 1945, OSU came into Bedlam as the unquestionably superior team. Expected to win. Better athletes. More star power. Physically dominated OU. Won a conference championship.
And we are no longer afraid.
The Sooners will win again, that is for sure. Might even win this year.
But we are no longer afraid.
No more do we have to pray for the bounce...or lack thereof...that might save us, produce the catalyst for the upset.
Because we are no longer afraid.
Gone are the days hoping to eek out a win against all odds.
Fear has left the building.
Gooner homers speak in cautious tones, hoping they don't see a repeat of 2011.
Bedlam fear has taken up residence in Norman.
Can you imagine a generation of OSU fans who aren't intimidated by the Sooners? Might not be that far off.
Even better, how about a football team that isn't intimidated by the thought of playing OU? We already have that.
This is now two years in a row where I have entertained the possibility that we could blow out OU.
I really don't know how to plug that into my Bedlam life experience.
But I'll sure as hell figure it out, CUZ I LIKE IT!
My Mom, 93, is with me in CT for Thanksgiving. I tweeted this the other day..
The seeds of Bedlam "hate" still run deep.