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OU-Notre Dame: Ire for the Irish — Why Oklahoma fans hate Notre Dame

Notre Dame ended OU's 47-game winning streak. And generations of Sooner fans, some of whom were born after Nov. 16, 1957, haven't forgiven the Fighting Irish.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 21, 2012

/articleid/3721299/1/pictures/1863418">Photo - Bud Wilkinson, OU football coach, hangs his head on the sideline during the Sooners 7-0 loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 16, 1957.  The loss ended OU's 47-game win streak. FROM THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES
Bud Wilkinson, OU football coach, hangs his head on the sideline during the Sooners 7-0 loss to Notre Dame on Nov. 16, 1957. The loss ended OU's 47-game win streak. FROM THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES

* *

It's not like the Sooners dominated Notre Dame before 1957. OU thrashed the Irish 40-0 in 1956, but the Sooners had lost to Notre Dame in 1952 and 1953.

In fact, between Oct. 13, 1951, and Oct. 11, 1958, OU lost three games. All to Notre Dame.

Call it a hate-hate relationship Sooner fans have with the Golden Domers.

“Hate is a little too strong, but let's go with I am intensely interested in the Sooners cleaning their clock,” said Richard Luttrell of Richardson, Texas. “I'm a little too young to remember Nov. 16, 1957, but that date was tattooed in my brain by my parents just like Dec. 7, 1941 — another day of infamy.”

Luttrell might reject the concept of hate, but Oklahoma City School Board member Phil Horning does not.

“That about captures it,” said Horning. “I was raised in Norman, and I saw both those losses that book ended our 47-game streak. I simply never forgave them.”

Horning plans to be in Norman on Saturday.

“I'll be there,” said Horning, the father of Norman Transcript sports editor Clay Horning. “I want us to crush ‘em.”

Phil Horning echoed the memories of OU fans now 55 years strong, how everyone in Memorial Stadium sat silent, seemingly unable to leave their seats or believe that they had just seen the Sooners lose that 1957 game.

“Nobody could believe it,” Horning said. “It was terrible. Just dead silence. I was about 16 years old, I was 6-feet tall, and I went home crying like a baby.”

* *

Michael Irwin is a senior cash manager for ExxonMobil Corporation in Dallas. He grew up an OU fan in upstate New York.

Irwin still can recite his access to the Sooners in the pre-Internet days of the 1970s.

One or two televised games per season. Fifteen to 30 seconds of highlights each Saturday during the Prudential College Scoreboard Show with Dave Diles. Three lines of type and a box score in the Sunday paper.

“Do you remember what the Notre Dame fans had?” Irwin asked. “A one-hour … replay hosted by Lindsey Nelson every Sunday morning! Aaaarrrrrrrgh!!!!”

Irwin said he's embarrassed that the jealousy, “born of youth,” continues to color his perception even though he now has virtually unlimited access to Sooner football.

“I still hope the Irish lose every week,” he said.

The truth is, the Irish inspire passion all across America. Positive and negative. And that certain game in 1957 ignites the feelings of Sooner fans even more so.

Laffoon, who remembers the tears of his mother, waxes eloquently about his venom toward the Irish.

“The tears were not for the loss of a game alone,” Laffoon said. “The tears were also for the perceived loss of respect our homeplace had suffered.

“The streak brought respect to a state devastated by the Dust Bowl and besmirched by Steinbeck's portrayal of Okies … for 47 games, we were the kings of the world.

“That was gone, wiped out, never to return and never to be repeated. I had no choice but to instantly despise them and all of their ilk.”

by Berry Tramel
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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