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Brave Moccasins make trip to Norman despite clear mismatch

by Berry Tramel Published: August 30, 2008
NORMAN — The last time a lower-division team dared tread on Owen Field, nobody knew much about Indiana State except this: Larry Bird went there.

Now come the Chattanooga Mocs, known as the Tennessee-Chattanooga Moccasins when their basketball team played Billy Tubbs' epic 1988 Sooners in the NCAA Tournament. And again, this team is known for an alum.

Terrell Owens. "TO went there,” said OU flanker Quentin Chaney. "That's one thing we all know.”

There's something else we all know. This is going to be a non-competitive football game. This is the biggest mismatch in modern OU history.

Where is the adult supervision? What kind of a system produces this kind of a game?

Please don't take this as criticism of Chattanooga. The Mocs should be saluted for taking on the challenge and providing an opponent at all. OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said this week that if Chattanooga hadn't agreed to play, the Sooners might not have found a foe for this season opener. It was getting that desperate.

But this is nowhere close to a fair fight, and not just because of the scholarship differences (OU can give out 85, Chattanooga 65).

Can't really say about the dusty days when Bennie Owen's Sooners would hang a hundred on Kingfisher College or Central Normal. But since World War II, there has not been an OU game matching teams with such a talent gulf.

Larry Bird's alma mater wasn't very good in 1999, a mediocre Division I-AA program, but Indiana State went against Bob Stoops' first OU squad, which was offensively scary but not close to the overall powerhouse the Sooners are today.

These Sooners are loaded with playmakers, veterans and potential NFL talent. Meanwhile, Chattanooga is the Baylor of the lower division. Chattanooga plays in one of the best I-AA conferences but hasn't had a winning conference record since 1991. Chattanooga's best overall record in the last 25 years is 7-4. The Mocs have stepped up to play an occasional major-conference opponent, including Arkansas last season, but in four games against Memphis this decade, Chattanooga's average defeat is 47-15.

This matchup is so bad, the television networks passed, and you all know by how rarely TV skips an OU game.

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