DALLAS — Tinker Owens was with Joe Washington on Wednesday night. Tinker turned 59 last week. Little Joe turned 60 in September.
What did the old Sooners talk about? OU-Texas memories, particularly the halfback pass Washington threw 40 years ago Sunday, a 40-yard TD to Owens. “He talks about it all the time,” Owens said with a laugh about Washington.
It's easy to talk OU-Texas when you've never lost to the Longhorns. Owens and Washington are among the few Sooners who went 4-0 against Texas. Which is what some of the current OU seniors can accomplish Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.
“I still brag about it,” Owens said. “I think all of us do. I talk to (Jimbo) Elrod, he brags about it. Little Joe, he talks about it. Every Sooner who ever has gone 4-0 is going to remember it the rest of their lives.”
So that's the carrot for nine Sooner lettermen Saturday. Austin Woods, Brennan Clay, Aaron Colvin, Roy Finch, Gabe Ikard, Bronson Irwin, Gabe Lynn, Trey Millard and Corey Nelson can finish off a 4-0 streak against the Longhorns, made even more sweet by the knowledge that when they took the Cotton Bowl turf in 2010, Texas owned the series, having won four of five.
“It would be very special,” said Ikard, the center from Bishop McGuinness. “Not many guys can say they went undefeated against Texas when they were playing on the field.”
Sooners of a certain vintage didn't have the chance at 4-0. Freshmen became eligible only in 1972. But still, that's 40 years of four-year opportunity. And the groups that went 4-0 against Texas are among the revered in Sooner lore.
The 1975 seniors, led by the Selmon brothers and Steve Davis and that halfback pass duo still bragging about their feats at the Cotton bowl. That group won two national championships and went 43-2-1 in their careers.
The 1988 seniors, led by Jamelle Holieway and Anthony Phillips. That group won a national championship and went 42-6 in their careers.
The 2003 and 2004 seniors, led by Jason White and Teddy Lehman and Vince Carter and Derrick Strait and Mark Clayton. Some of that group won a national championship and played for another; others in that group played for two national titles. OU from 2000-04 went 60-7.
The evidence is clear. Go 4-0 against Texas, and other great things follow.
The current Sooners have not achieved that level of success. No current Sooner has played for a national title. OU has just won outright Big 12 title since 2008. The Sooners since opening day 2010 are 37-8. Good, but not great. Beat the Longhorns, and greatness, at least for this season, remains attainable.
“I'm glad to have that opportunity, that's special for me,” Ikard said of the 4-0 chance. “But my biggest concern is going 6-0 this year. I can look to the last couple of years and enjoy those wins, but they have no implications on this game.”
History says that's not true. No series is streakier than OU-Texas. One of these ancient rivals starts dominating, and suddenly the Sooners and Longhorns seem to be rambling downhill. Texas can't grab the reins of the Schooner, or OU can't lasso Bevo's horns.
Bob Stoops won't admit it publicly, but his actions acknowledge the historical nature of this series. Stoops had Jammal Brown talk to the Sooners before the 2012 game. Brown was the offensive tackle anchor on those great 2003 and 2004 teams. OU fullback Trey Millard still remembers Brown's speech.
“Jammal … one of the things that he broke on was he never lost to Texas,” Millard said. “One of those things you can take pride in kind of the rest of your career. If you go 4-0, you never have to come back and play against ‘em after that. It's kind of set in stone that you have done that. You take pride in never losing to your best rival. You definitely take a lot of pride in going 4-0.”
The Sooners can achieve such lifetime bragging rights Saturday.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
A list of the Sooner lettermen who went 4-0 vs. Texas, courtesy of OU historian Mike Brooks:
Gayron Allen, LB, 2001-04
Rotnei Anderson, FB, 1985-88
Jammal Brown, OL, 2001-04
Carl Cabbiness, WR, 1985-88
Vince Carter, C, 2001-04
Mark Clayton, WR, 2001-04
Dan Cody, DE, 2000, 2002-04
Lance Donley, TE, 2000-03
Brandon Everage, DB, 2000-03
Scott Garl, DB, 1985-88
Jamelle Holieway, QB, 1985-88
Jonathan Jackson, DE, 2001-04
Brandon Jones, WR, 2001-04
Kory Klein, DT, 2000-03
Bob Latham, C, 1985-88
Teddy Lehman, LB, 2000-03
Matt McCoy, DB, 2000-03
Eric Mitchell, QB, 1985-88
Tinker Owens, WR, 1972-75
Will Peoples, WR, 2001-04
Antonio Perkins, DB, 2001-04
Anthony Phillips, OL, 1985-88
Dewey Selmon, DL, 1972-75
Lee Roy Selmon, DL, 1972-75
Brandon Shelby, DB, 2001-04
Wes Sims, OL, 2001-04
Anthony Stafford, HB, 1985-88
Derrick Strait, DB, 2000-03
Michael Thompson, DB, 2000-03
Todd Thomsen, P, 1985-88
Joe Washington, HB, 1972-75
* Jason White, QB, 2000-04
Curtice Williams, DL, 1985-88
Tony Woods, DL, 1985-88
Renaldo Works, RB, 2000-03
* Note: White went 5-0 against Texas.