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Bedlam football: It'll be bad, but not Ice Bowl bad

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — With the weather figuring to play a significant role in Saturday's Bedlam football game, it's bringing back memories of the 1985 Ice Bowl in Stillwater.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 6, 2013

A team manager found him sitting at his locker watching the game on TV.

“I'm not going back out there,” he said.

The manager insisted.

“Well, I'll just get kicked out,” Gilliam said.

Gilliam made life miserable for OU receiver Derrick Shepard.

“I was doin' all kind of terrible stuff to (him), and they would not kick me out,” Gilliam said, laughing. “When the wide receiver came out there, what I did, I just hit ‘em because they couldn't stand up. Once I hit him, he'd fall down and couldn't catch the pass.”

Players tried to scratch out a bit of traction, pawing at the frozen ground like bulls preparing to charge, but as soon as they moved off that clear-off spot, their balance was gone.

As bad as players were having it, conditions might've actually been worse for fans.

Burrus was a senior at OU in 1985, and he drove with three friends in his Ford Fiesta from Norman for the game.

They were young, they were not as smart as they are now, and they didn't have near enough clothes. They crowded into the bathroom at halftime, and like the hundreds of people in there, they tried to get their hands over a lone heater.

Now a lawyer for Microsoft in Seattle but still an OU season ticket holder, Burrus remembers standing up from the bleachers and hearing the crackle of ice.

Yes, his pants had frozen to the metal.

“But ... we drank schnapps and thought we were warm,” he said.

That game, by the way, ended with a Sooner victory, 13-0. Tillman scored the game's lone touchdown, and Tim Lashar somehow kicked two field goals.

Who knows what stories will come out of Bedlam 2013. Maybe in another three decades we'll still be talking about this game because of the wild weather. Maybe we'll call it Ice Bowl II.

But the original will always be better.

Or worse, if you were there.

* Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at, follow her at or view her personality page at

by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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Memories from fans who attended the 1985 Bedlam game, which became known as the Ice Bowl:

Paul Anthony, who has bachelor's and master's degrees from OSU on what he thinks of first when remembering the Ice Bowl:

“Wondering if in dry conditions the game would have played differently. And remembering Thurman (Thomas) break free and look like he would go for a touchdown but because of the crown on the field at the time, he couldn't get traction to stop from going out of bounds.”

Dave Kroeger, OSU alum now living in Tempe, Ariz.:

“I stayed the entire game, and my 1981 Honda Civic was encased in ice. The ice on the driver's side was particularly thick, so I had to work my way into my car through the passenger's side. I remember having to wait a long time for the ice to thaw from the windshield. Ice scraper was useless for quite awhile.”

Mark Grober, who along with wife, Valerie, graduated from OSU in 1978 and now live in Muskogee:

“I guess we were young enough that it seemed like something we had to go to ... as this was going to be one of those events you just had to be able to say you were there for. We remember people freezing to their seats, thunder snow — before The Weather Channel invented it — and how funny it was to see that the players really couldn't any traction or cut. Valerie and I have been at all Bedlam games in Stillwater since 1974 and don't plan on missing Saturday's game. Besides, how many fans are going to be able to say they attended the Ice Bowl and whatever they are going to call Saturday's game?”

Mark Sparkman, who has a master's degree from OU but was attending OSU in 1985:

“My brother's friend wore jeans, penny loafers, a sweater and a Members Only jacket. Needless to say, they had to go to my dorm room at halftime and watch the second half on TV. Craziest thing was near the end of the game, men were getting hot chocolate and pouring it around women's bottoms to get them loose from the bleachers. They had sat the entire game, and the sleet had frozen them to the seats.”


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