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Seattle's revenge: Emerald City could inflict major pain with victory over Sooner football team

By Berry Tramel Modified: September 8, 2008 at 8:16 am •  Published: September 8, 2008
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An Oklahoma State fan stood at Qwest Field nine days ago while the Cowboys were rolling Washington State. He twisted the knife by lofting a sign that read:

"We've Come For the Mariners"

Not very diplomatic, but then again, this doesn't figure to be a very diplomatic month.

In the same summer in which Seattle's original major-league franchise, the NBA SuperSonics, relocated to Oklahoma City, courtesy of Oklahoman Clay Bennett, our state football teams make the reverse trip, albeit for solitary Saturdays.

OU has been playing football since 1895, OSU since 1901, but never before have either the Sooners or Cowboys played in the Emerald City. Now, with the wounds fresh from the loss of the Sonics, Seattle hosts both in a 15-day span.

Reports were few of poor hospitality when the Cowboys visited, and there is no great reason to believe the Sooners or their fans will be subjected to harsh treatment this week, when OU plays the University of Washington at Husky Stadium.

Seattle is a cosmopolitan city. The Sonics were an institution, UW football is an institution, but that doesn't mean their entire fan bases overlap.

Brian Robinson, co-founder of Save Our Sonics, a group that tried to rally support for the NBA franchise, says August and September are such beautiful months in Seattle, fans still are months away from thinking basketball, whether or not the team remains in town or not.

But still. Oklahoma has Seattle's basketball team, and now the most high-profile Oklahomans — the Sooner football team — plays just a few miles from KeyArena, which will sit silent this coming NBA season.

David Bassity, a publicist for the OU athletic department, once worked in Seattle and returned July 4 for a visit. As he was gathering his gear at the airport baggage claim, a man noticed Bassity's bag tags, which displayed Oklahoma.

"Watch your purse," the man told his wife. "He may try to steal it."

Seattle's Revenge

Bennett has been vilified in Seattle and the national media, and message-board poets continue to write vile things about Oklahomans, and a class-action lawsuit by fans remains in the Seattle courts against the franchise now known as the Thunder.

But if Seattle really wants to inflict pain on Oklahoma, really wants to exact revenge on the prairie state that took its basketball team, it need do only one thing.

Win this football game.

The Thunder already is wildly popular, and the Ford Center figures to be a season sellout, but college football remains this state's prime passion. Maybe that will change over time, but for now, the Thunder clearly is no better than No. 2 on the sports food chain, behind Bob Stoops' Sooners.

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