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 NewsOK.com 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.
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.
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.
One former Sooner who received his share of blame is Nate Hybl, who twice came off the bench when Jason White tore ACLs.
In the 2001 loss at Nebraska, he tripped while wide open on a reverse pass that almost surely would've scored a touchdown; later in the game, Nebraska clinched a win when its quarterback, Eric Crouch, caught a long pass and scored on a similar play.
Every OU offensive coordinator since Mark Mangino has been scorned, but later longed for after their departure.
Josh Heupel is the last Sooner quarterback to win a national championship, but now, as the one calling plays, even he is seen as the enemy by some.
John, Tulsa: Josh Heupel may be the best technical position coach in the NCAA. But get him out of the booth.
Tom, Lawton: ... With more talent than the 2000 team (except at quarterback) this team makes far too many mistakes. I have to put that on the coaches, for the most part. It's one thing to say you want to win, it's another thing to dedicate the time and energy to actually making it happen.
Wayne: That stadium is like a graveyard unless that team just made a big play. ... I think the Sooner fan base is one of the worst I have seen.
Okie in AZ: The problem is Landry ... this team played very hard and he gave it away ... Landry said he came back to enjoy his senior year and hang out with his wife. Football is his third priority.
Sometimes, losses hurt so bad that fans resort to protest.
This comes sometimes as a pledge to stop watching/attending the games until X, Y and Z happen, or, in extreme cases, even vows to never again cheer for OU.
The anger that can stem from the protest stage can sometimes be directed at those who have nothing to do with a loss; a possible example of this misdirected fury came at the 2005 Orange Bowl halftime show.
OU was being routed by USC, and singer Ashlee Simpson was soundly booed. It's impossible to know if the boos came because of her performance, or if the largely pro-OU crowd was just mad at everything that night.
John, McAlester: After we got blown out (in the 2005 Orange Bowl), I took all my old OU t-shirts and hats, put them in the burn barrel and had a protest. It was like a sacrifice to the football gods. I didn't want that crap in my house.
Terry: I had the chance to buy some OU-Texas tickets for pretty cheap but won't go because I don't want to drive all the way to Dallas to see OU get beat. I don't want to give any more of my money to that team until they act like they care.
Bob: I have been a Sooner fan since 1947. ... Landry Jones can kiss the Heisman goodbye, the team can kiss the Big 12 Championship goodbye, the team can kiss the national championship goodbye and NOW the team can kiss me goodbye! I AM DONE!
The Later — Not Sooner — Stage
For many fans, the best way to end their grief is to proclaim that OU should just throw in the towel and play for the future.
This is evident in the desire by several of the Sooner faithful to see Blake Bell inserted into the starting lineup in place of Landry Jones, because, the theory goes, the 2012 season is over anyway.
David: Season's over. Jones has not improved since he was a sophomore. Time to build for the future.
Coy: Bell has the skill OU needs NOW ... and in the process, he will become better and more proficient at the pass first, spread concept. ... Jones cannot play better. His time at OU has come and gone, and he should have left along with it. The season is being wasted.
John, Miami: We've seen what (Jones) can do, now is the time to give Blake Bell his opportunity. He may or may not do as well (or, he may even do better) as L. Jones, but it makes absolutely no sense in doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results.
I: Landry Jones has officially cemented his legacy as the most overrated qb in OU history. There is no reason for him to continue to play. Put Blake Bell in and start getting ready for next year.