College Football Week 15: Arrowhead a House of Pain
Here’s a Kansas City leftover that might be the most long-lasting effect of this 2008 OU season. Even longer than the great Texas BCS controversy. Even longer than the Big Bowl against Florida, win or lose. Even longer than a possible Heisman Trophy season for Slingin’ Sammy Bradford.
After the third quarter at Arrowhead Stadium, the public-address system at Kansas City played House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” the rap song that Sooner fans jumped to and danced to all night against Texas Tech. And Saturday night in KC, OU fans went wild again.
Then I got an email from an OU fan who had written a clever pledge of allegiance for Sooners, which included the promise to treat every home game like that magic night against Tech.
It all made me think. What is Owen Field is transformed. What if the Sooners suddenly make every home game as electric as Nov. 22? Well, it will be hard to duplicate every element; you don’t get the nation’s No. 2-ranked team coming in every week.
But Bob Stoops’ ploy to get his fans jacked up worked famously. What if it has an even better effect? What if it takes hold? What if Owen Field becomes the ultimate snakepit?
OU fans actually are pretty good at adopting new traditions and embracing them quickly. Case in point: the national anthem. “And the home … of the … SOONERS!”
Some of us with a patriotic bent aren’t crazy about the practice, but you would have an easier time getting Sooner fans to wear orange than you would getting them to stop inserting Sooners at the end of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Maybe same with this deal. The crowd at Kansas City already was impressive in number and volume. But it really came alive with House of Pain. Trot out House of Pain about 60 seconds before every opening kickoff, and Stoops might have a homefield advantage that would rival his beloved Florida’s.
TEN BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE WEEK
10. Virginia Tech: Yet another ACC title for the Hokies, who beat Boston College 30-12 for the championship. Let there be no mistake. The best football program in the ACC is not Miami and not Florida State, but Virginia Tech.
9. East Carolina: The Pirates started strong, with upsets of Virginia Tech and West Virginia, and finished strong, a 27-24 upset at Tulsa in the Conference USA championship game.
8. Jahvid Best: The California tailback ran for a school-record 311 yards and four TDs as the Bears routed hapless Washington 48-7.
7. Mike Teel: The Rutgers quarterback was booed a few weeks ago, but Teel heard nothing but cheers Thursday, throwing for 447 yards and a Big East-record seven touchdown in a 63-14 rout of Louisville.
6. Atlantic Coast Conference: A record 10 ACC schools are in bowl games. None are marquee games; ESPN’s Mark Schlaubath ranked the bowls, and no ACC game is in the top 10. But still, that’s a lot of teams playing in postseason.
5. Dustin Grutza: The Cincinnati quarterback suffered a broken leg at Owen Field in September, but he returned for a token appearance at Louisville on Nov. 14, and Saturday night Grutza came up huge. Grutza relieved starter Tony Pike and threw a 69-yard TD pass to Mardy Gilyard with 4:42 left to give the Bearcats a 29-24 win at Hawaii.
4. Turner Gill: Who knew that the former Nebraska magician would make such a good coach? But for the second straight year, Gill has done wonders at Buffalo, this year winning the Mid-American with a 42-24 upset of Ball State.
3. Sam Bradford: On yet another national stage, Bradford was fantastic again in a 62-21 rout of Missouri – 384 yards, 34 of 49 passing and two touchdowns. The Heisman might be his.
2. San Diego bowls: The Holiday Bowl usually is a solid game, but its little brother, the Poinsettia Bowl, has barely been a blip on the postseason landscape. That changes this year, as San Diego will host four of the nation’s top 15 teams. No. 13 plays No. 15 Oregon in the Holiday, and No. 9 Boise State plays No. 11 TCU in the Poinsettia.
1. Tim Tebow: The Florida quarterback owned the fourth quarter, leading the Gators to a 31-20 victory over top-ranked Alabama, putting Florida in the national title game and himself in contention to repeat as Heisman Trophy winner.
MY FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD
Friday night in Kansas City means a trip to Garozzo’s, my favorite restaurant in the world. It’s a KC institution, and while they’ve got several locations spread through both sides of the state line, I like the off-downtown venue.
It sits in the old Little Italy neighborhood, which now has turned into an Asian district, just like Little Italy in New York.
But inside is pure Italian. Frank Sinatra over the PA, a menu with all these Latin or Italian terms, pictures on the wall of literally hundreds of celebrities, from politicians to entertainers to athletes who have dined at Garozzo’s.
It’s small and quaint and dripping with ambience.
And the food is fantastic. I mess up every time I go. They will give you a combo plate; half and half. I always order the chicken spedini Garozzo and the steak modiga. And I always wish I had gotten straight steak modiga. Best steak in the world. You can cut it with a fork, and it’s got a lemon mushroom sauce over it. Unbelievable.
Anyway, this was one of my favorite trips to Garozzo’s, because it included a little adventure.
One of the great things about my job is the people I meet. There’s a guy from Kansas City who has been emailing me for years to talk a little OU football. Sooner grad who grew up in Oklahoma.
Anyway, a few months back, my wife, the Dish, comes home and says she ran into a guy named Mark Cosby from Kansas City. They went to school together; graduated from Moore in the same class, 1978.
Same guy from Kansas City. So that was cool, and last week we hatched a plan to get together for dinner. He and his wife, Jimmie, met us at Garozzo’s.
Well, on the road, us OPUBCO guys tend to stick together, so OU writer Jake Trotter and videographer Damon Fontenot joined us. And Jake invited along three other writers: ESPN’s Tim Griffin, the Austin American Statesman’s Kirk Bohles and the Kansas City Star’s Bill Reiter.
Kirk and Tim are great guys; I’ve known them since the Big 12 formation. I’d never met Bill, but we became kindred spirits because he’s a Garozzo’s junkie. Eats there often and even has some kind of points card for frequent diners. I have to get one of those.
So we had a great time, talking sports and old high school days and common people we knew – the Cosbys once attended the church my wife’s uncle pastured until retirement this year. It’s a small world.
At the table next to us were a couple of guys who introduced themselves. Heath and Matt Thompson, sons of Mickey Thompson, who once wrote sports for the Ada Evening News, then got into petroleum. Mickey emails me from time to time, too, and both Jimmie Cosby and the Dish have tons of family in Ada, so the Thompson boys basically joined the dinner party.
It was a blast. The Dish ordered the combo, too, and liked the chicken Garozzo best, so she gave me half her steak modiga, so I came away completely satisfied.
I always do at Garozzo’s.
Rankings based not on what anyone thinks a team will do or should do, but on what they have done
6. Penn State
7. Texas Tech
10. Ohio State
11. Boise State
12. Georgia Tech
15. Oklahoma State
ROLLING HILLS OF KANSAS
You know, I could really grow to hate the Kansas Turnpike, and on this trip I figured out why.
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