NORMAN — Big game Saturday at Owen Field, and you don't have to check the rankings or gauge ESPN mentions or take R.J. Washington's blood pressure.
Just listen to Bob Stoops nudge OU fans to get rowdy.
Stoops hasn't called out the Sooner crowd — he's still smarting from four years ago — but Monday he dropped a subtle hint that it's all hands on deck when Kansas State comes to town.
“I'm sure we'll have a great crowd,” Stoops said. “Everybody's anticipating the opening of the Big 12 season, so hopefully our crowd will engage and be a factor.”
Stoops doesn't trot that out for Florida A&M or Iowa State. He saves it for games like second-ranked Texas Tech in 2008 and K-State this weekend.
“I don't think we've ever been known to have an overly ruckus crowd,” Stoops famously said four years ago, imploring OU fans to greet Mike Leach's pirates with a reception rarely seen in Norman.
Some Sooner fans didn't take kindly to Stoops' plea, but every Sooner fan responded. Campus was crazy that cold November night; the crowd spent the night celebrating an eventual 65-21 victory by bouncing to House of Pain's “Jump Around.” The players often joined them.
Stoops this week wanted no part of a repeat exhortation. “People got pretty sore at me,” he said of his 2008 declaration. “I can't say that I heard anything. Just seemed that way.”
Sore? Don't you love it when Stoops talks like Beaver Cleaver. Besides, why not call out the fans again? No one in human history ever got so much mileage out of a request.
“I don't need to comment on that,” Stoops said. “You guys are at every game. You can see whether they're raucous or not. So you call it as you see it. You can refer to 2008 if you want.”
OK. Consider it done.
So do the OU fans get a bad rap? I'd say so. I don't think the Sooners have the most electric atmosphere in college football, but I also don't think it's stale.
I've been to games at Tennessee and Oregon, Alabama and Nebraska, Texas A&M and Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas. Owen Field ranks somewhere in the middle of that pack. Tennessee's probably the best I've experienced, and I wasn't even there for a big game (OSU 1995, the Cowboys stunk).
The OU crowd gets juiced for big games, and who cares about little games?
Texas Tech 2008 wasn't the first time the old stadium roared. Josh Heupel, now Stoops' offensive coordinator but once upon a time his quarterback, still remembers the feeling at the 1999 Texas A&M and 2000 Nebraska games.
“Just the loud, electric atmosphere,” Heupel said. “The Nebraska game especially, just the expectations and the opportunity that came with where we were at and hopefully going as a program.”
Stoops' softened comments Monday got a few fans sore at him again. Others said, right on. A sampling:
Katie Goff of Oklahoma City: “Maybe the team should show up with energy.”
Darryl Seger of El Reno: “OU fans have been spoiled by the free T-shirts and hot dogs at the men's basketball games at Lloyd Noble Library. Maybe the athletic department could do that for this game?”
If history is any indication, the stadium will be more midway carnival than library Saturday night.
“You'd like to see them like that every Saturday, but if you can't be every Saturday, hopefully you will be this Saturday,” Stoops told the fans.
See, he couldn't help himself. Willing to get Sooner Nation sore at him again. Told you it was a big game.
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 FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.