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Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Should this number be retired first?

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm •  Published: July 5, 2013

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Defensive back Matt McCoy talks with the media at the Bob Stoops media luncheon at the Barry Switzer Center on the OU campus. In the foreground is Steve Owens jersey and helmet.  Staff Photo by David McDaniel.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Defensive back Matt McCoy talks with the media at the Bob Stoops media luncheon at the Barry Switzer Center on the OU campus. In the foreground is Steve Owens jersey and helmet. Staff Photo by David McDaniel.

I was filming an interview with Fox Sports a few weeks ago. The Clippers’ network is producing a documentary on Blake Griffin, and we chatted in Lloyd Noble Center’s honors hall, where OU displays trophies and jerseys and such.

And the reporter from LA, Sara Takata, noticed that Griffin wore the same number, 23, as Wayman Tisdale. She thought that was odd, and it is. Especially when you consider the other two great big men in OU history, Alvan Adams and Stacey King, also wore the same number, 33.

And it led to a conversation of retired numbers. Which meant I had to explain OU football’s decision not to retire numbers.

Which remains a good policy. Where do you start? How far do you go? We’ve already got too many duplicate numbers, thanks to a lack of discipline by coaches. At a place like OU, where even the most exclusive club of national honorees approaches 20, you can run out of numbers really quick.

But I received an email from a guy awhile back who has a novel idea. Bo Wright suggests retiring the number 47.

“In honor of the streak, I wonder if OU would ever consider retiring the #47,” Wright wrote. “I know that OU doesn’t retire numbers, because if they did, they would run out of numbers to give people. However, the #47 is forever linked to Oklahoma, and I’m pretty sure Renaldo Works and Trent Ratterree would not mind.

“I also always thought it would be cool if the 47 yard lines were marked with a solid crimson line from sideline to sideline. Lots of schools have national titles, and Heisman Trophies, (but) there’s only one 47-game winning streak.”

Well, I have to say, it’s a think-outside-the-box idea, which I love.

And Wright is right; 47 is among the lower-key jerseys in OU history. The current No. 47 is backup kicker Eric Hosek. Here are the No. 47’s I found:

* Charles Teel, 1930-31;

* Fred Ball Jr., 1935-37;

* Sherdell Breathett, LB, 1980-81;

* Jeff Hake, DE, 1983-85;

* Tracy Gordon, DE, 1988-90;

* Brent DeQuaise, DE, 1992-95;

* Rodney Rideau, S, 1996;

* Ardmand Spence, 1997-99;

* Renaldo Works, TB, 2000-03;

* Jonathan Jordan, LB, 2005-

* Trent Ratterree, TE, 2008-11.

And that’s it. Rideau doesn’t really count, since he switched to 45 as a sophomore. The OU media guide also lists Gordon and Teel as wearing other numbers.

So the best 47 in OU history does indeed come down to Works, although DeQuasie played a bunch and deserves consideration.

Thus if you’re going to retire a number for non-individual player reasons, 47 is a great one to use.

I still wouldn’t do it. It cracks the door, and if the Sooners ever started retiring numbers, it could start a cavalcade. And then we could have the unpleasant practice of unretiring numbers for big-time recruits, as we saw with Tisdale and Griffin.

I don’t know if the crimson stripe at the 47-yard line would pass muster, but that’s a cool idea. Maybe not a stripe the width of the field, but how about a simple red “47” on each 47-yard line. Subtle, yet clear.

Anyway, good ideas by Bo Wright. Just because I don’t think something will work doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Dialogue like this leads to all kinds of good ideas.

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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