NORMAN — Late in the third quarter of Saturday's 16-7 win over West Virginia, a sizable group of frustrated Sooner fans chanted, “We want Bell! We want Bell!”
When OU coaches finally gave the fans what they wanted and replaced struggling — and, as it turns out, injured — redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight with junior Blake Bell, the crowd erupted in loud cheers.
Knight's parents expected some harsh criticism to come eventually when Trevor was named Oklahoma's starting quarterback several days before the season opener. It's impossible to be fully prepared for the intense, often unfair attacks, but the Knights tried their best to ready themselves for it
“I was telling a friend earlier today that I thought Tricia and I needed to become Bartmans,” George Knight joked in a telephone interview with The Oklahoman last month, referencing the iconic image of Chicago Cubs fan Steve Bartman after he interfered with a possible third out late in a playoff game that could've clinched a 2003 World Series berth.
“We need to get our headphones on, and our little hats, and our turtleneck sweaters and go sit in the corner of the stadium and listen to Toby Rowland do the play-by-play, and not listen to anybody else.”
Parents in the stands, wearing headphones to block out criticism and Bell-mania? Yes, to prepare for the potential avalanche of negativity, the Knight family talked to experts in the field — Kevin and Kellye Jones, Landry's parents.
Landry Jones won more games, passed for more yardage and tossed more touchdowns than any quarterback in Oklahoma history. He was a two-time Big 12 champion, went 3-1 in bowl games and beat Texas three times.
But for many fans, none of that was good enough. A vocal sect of Sooner Nation even believed coaches should've benched Jones after an early season loss to Kansas State last year.
As Trevor Knight redshirted last season, his family got a firsthand look at what a Sooner quarterback goes through, and how to best handle it.