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Oklahoma football: Fans go through stages of grief

After watching the Sooners fall to Kansas State, we've taken comments from and emails to provide examples of fans experiencing each stage.
by Jason Kersey Published: October 1, 2012

NORMAN — Oklahoma football fans — like fans of most any sports team — can be a fickle bunch, especially after a loss.

The Sooners' most recent setback last weekend sent even the most loyal of fans into their usual post-loss stages of grief.

Like the Kubler-Ross model for stages a person goes through when dealing with a lost loved one or their own impending mortality — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — the grief Sooner fans experience after a loss, or when they realize a national title is out of reach, can be broken down into five stages.

If you're an Oklahoma football fan — or have loved ones who bleed crimson and cream — you've probably experienced each these stages to some degree.

Taken from comments on and reader emails, we've provided examples of fans who are experiencing each stage in the aftermath of OU's 24-19 home loss to Kansas State.

Justification Stage

The first response to a painful loss is often to try convincing others — and themselves — that the game would have gone differently if not for various game time decisions by coaches, mistakes by players or bad calls by officials.

A prominent example of this stage is the continued insistence by some of the Sooner faithful that, had coaches inserted backup quarterback Paul Thompson into the 2004 Sugar Bowl against LSU — and benched Jason White, who'd won the Heisman Trophy a month earlier — OU would've beaten the Tigers and won the national championship.

John, Oklahoma City: Even with the turnover those kids could have won the game as easily as they lost it. Two evenly matched teams playing their hearts out. If it wasn't for a few bad breaks Oklahoma would have won by three touchdowns.

jdriver87: OU just gave this game away ... didn't have anything whatsoever to do with anything Kansas State did. You can't have your QB do things like Jones did in this game and expect to win against a good opponent. Add all (the mistakes) up and you get a difference of 28 points.

Jerry: Yes, OU did make a lot of mistakes, but with such bad play, it takes a pretty good team to stay in the game and have a chance to win.

Reflecting and Deflecting Stage

Another regular response to Sooner losses — especially in their immediate aftermath — is to reminisce on OU's past glory.

This can come in many forms; it can be defensive bashing of the winning team, as is commonly heard following Oklahoma State losses. How many times did everyone hear the all-time Bedlam series record after the Cowboys smacked the Sooners 44-10 to win the Big 12 title?

In online comments, some Sooner fans are even dealing with their Kansas State grief by attacking OSU.

But this stage can also be experienced in other ways; one reader said that after the 2011 Bedlam game, he was unable to watch the 2011 Insight Bowl.

Instead, he watched his DVD copy of the 1976 Orange Bowl win over Michigan that night.

TBone, Carrollton: Things could be worse..............we could be Stoolwater that lost to a lower-tier Pac12 team 59-38 that just got slaughtered by the Ducks 49-0.

Jon, Bartlesville: Colin Klein did not LEAD anybody to a victory tonight. He just failed to hand it to the opponent.

Richard: K-State, enjoy this win because you don't have many ever that you can enjoy all that much. OU has plenty of wins over K-State including destroying them at their home last year. At least OU can win without going back to the same coach over and over again to save us.

Blame Stage

This is the stage of grief where the fan assigns blame for the loss to any one of the regular culprits: The quarterback, the offensive coordinator and coach Bob Stoops are the usual targets, but the stadium crowd is often blamed, too.

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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