Playing in Stillwater “was awesome,” Smith said. “As a player, that's what made going on the road so much fun. They're stealing part of the soul of college football.”
Boone Pickens Stadium is among the most intimate coliseums in college football. From sideline to retaining wall isn't much more than 10 feet. You get 140 people pounding padding with paddles, and it can be quite the intimidating place.
Big 12 spokesman Bob Burda said the rule was passed not because of complaints from other schools, but because questions were asked about potential sponsorships. Clappers, thundersticks, megaphones, even vuvuzelas, those horns that became all the rage during the 2010 World Cup. Schools were wondering how far they could go with artificial noise-makers.
The athletic directors, Burda said, decided “let's just do away with them. Leads to a cleaner game-day environment. Won't have sportsmanship issues.”
That's when Holder stepped in to save the Paddle People, an official student spirit group, formed about 12 years ago and now 140 members strong.
Also wouldn't surprise me if part of the motivation to be more genteel was a nod to West Virginia, a notoriously inhospitable football crowd that has vowed to change its way as it joins the Big 12.
And it's not like the Big 12 is a trailblazer. The SEC in 2010 forged a similar rule. Mississippi State's cowbells, an unbelievably annoying tradition, were banned except during pre-game festivities, halftime, timeouts and after scoring plays.
Mississippi State fans have adjusted. Time for the Paddle People to do the same.
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.