In my OU report card after the Florida State game, I gave the Sooner crowd a D for patriotism. For which I owe everyone an apology.
Should have been an F.
Just like at every Sooner home game, a big number — maybe half — of the crowd embarrassed the team, the school, the state and themselves by finishing off the national anthem with, in unison, "and the home of the SOONERS!"
Bad enough that it happens every autumn Saturday. Even more egregious that it occurred on 9/11, after a delicate video message that asked fans to respect the solemnity of the day. Worst of all comes Saturday, when the knuckleheads will unite even with the Air Force Academy as the visitor.
This is a phenomenon that can't be stopped. Can't be shamed.
Mob mentality rules. Otherwise sane, rational, decent people lose their judgment and their scruples and their pride. Loss of pride is a powerful thing.
Oh, make no mistake. Some of the mob is made up of idiots who don't know any better. Others are cement heads, thinking it's cool to cause trouble. Some are simply swimming in so much Sooner fervor, they don't know what they're doing. And there's always the rebels who cop an attitude and yell "Sooners" because David Boren or Joe Castiglione asked them not to.
Doesn't matter the cause or motivation. It makes us all look bad. Makes everyone from this great state look like a bunch of rubes. Makes us all seem like a bunch flag-waving zealots who will suspend our love of country if a pigskin is involved.
Readers have trotted out some ideas to try to solve the problem. Here are the best suggestions:
1. Have a military hero — perhaps a wounded veteran — make a plea, either live or on the video board.
2. Have a Sooner legend — Sam Bradford and Brian Bosworth? — ask fans to refrain.
3. Just surrender and quit singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" and switch to "America the Beautiful" or "God Bless America" and hope the mob can't organize enough to find a spot in either song they can bastardize.
"I'd like to say there's an original idea in there, but there's not," said Castiglione, OU's athletic director. "All those things have been discussed."
Before a game last season, OU showed a video tribute to David Wright, a former Sooner hurdler who was killed on duty in Afghanistan in September 2009. A moment of silence was held for Wright, followed immediately by the national anthem.
Which ended with a booming "home of, the SOONERS!"
"The more we try to bring light to the subject ... the more defiant they seem to get," Castiglione said.
The counter-argument is that fans have the right to yell whatever they want. Which of course they do. This is not a free speech debate.
This is a don't-be-a-gooberhead debate. This is a don't-let-football-make-you-lose-your-mind debate.
In town Saturday will be an Air Force football team made up of players who will be drafted not by the Colts or the Vikings, but by units in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
OU is calling it Military Appreciation Day, complete with a halftime salute. Which will seem empty after the nonsense during the national anthem.
I'm not big on patriotic displays. I actually did mess up that report card; I should have given the F for simple respect.
If you don't want to fly a flag or put your hand over your heart or even pay your taxes, fine. But it's wrong to inject your college football fanaticism into the respect others are trying to show.
I'm no great fan of "The Star-Spangled Banner." It's not a good tune, and the lyrics are hard to remember even for a song we've heard 10,000 times.
But the song is not about musical quality. It's about honoring the nation and the sacrifice our military has made.
We have had perilous fighting. Rockets have produced red glare. Bombs have burst in air.
You have every right to yell Sooners. Just know that when you do, you're disrespecting the brave.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.