OU-Texas is a tradition like no other. Alas, some of the traditions within the tradition change. Expanded stadium. No more 2 p.m. starts. Commerce Street gone mild. Lots of changes over 84 years, which is how long OU-Texas has been staged at Fair Park in Dallas.
One of the changes for the media is the entry point into Fair Park. We now enter from the south, right by the parking lot south of the Cotton Bowl. But in the old days, we entered from the northwest corner of the fair. Which meant we got to drive around through the park, winding our way to the Cotton Bowl. Past the train exhibit (my favorite) and some of the expo buildings and alongside the animal barns (my least favorite).
The drive alone gave you a good sense of the fair.
I’m not big on state fairs in general. About 20 minutes is enough for me. Which means I get my fix usually doing pregame radio. The Sports Animal sets up a few hundred yards west of the stadium, so I often stroll through various State Fair staples to get to the radio post.
The Midway is fun to walk through. The food booths, I can generally do without. I told someone my favorite fair food is a turkey leg, but with 11 a.m. starts, I generally just grab something in the pressbox. I’m usually still stuffed from Friday night dinner with friends.
The walk to the stadium from the parking lots gives you a solid fair experience. You go past all kind of vendors with all kinds of things for sale, from whirlpools to riding lawn mowers.
My favorite part of the Fair Park strolls come after the game, because the sun is down and the lights of the Midway create a different atmosphere. The crowd also has thinned to some degree. By then, we’ve been at the venue about 10-11 hours, so the day is exhausting, but you still see plenty of winning-team fans reveling, and even a few hearty souls still wearing the colors of the vanquished.
It really is a setting unlike any other in college football. Or any other sport, for that matter.
Which leads us back to the beginning and arrival at the stadium. One of the traditions of OU-Texas is the busride into the park. For both teams, the experience is wild, with fans lining the lanes of the Fair. For the enemy, they bang on the bus and yell profanities and make obscene gestures. For the favored side, the bus is greeted like conqueroring heroes returning from battle.
We always tell the OU side, but the Longhorns feel the same about this rivalry. “It’s the reason you come to Texas,” Longhorn cornerback Quandre Diggs said. “To play in a rivalry game like this magnitude of the game is crazy. A lot of people don’t ever get to experience anything like this in their life, and we’re some of the guys that do, and we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Our newsok video team, led by videographers Tim Money and Damon Fontenot, created a five-part video series in honor of OU-Texas Week. We talked to former Sooners from the 1960s (Ken Mendenhall), ’70s (Al Chandler), ’80s (Tony Casillas), ’90s (Kelly Gregg) and 2000s (J.D. Runnels) about their OU-Texas memories. Today’s edition centers on that bus ride through Fair Park and how it leads to a game they never will forget.