Tramel: OU-Texas traditions do not go on, even if Red River game does
Richard Osborn made the cut. The long-time Sooner season-ticket holder was included among OU’s allotment of 12,000 tickets for the Texas game next Saturday.
Osborn has been to 38 straight OU-Texas games. He and his wife, Kay, even went to the 2006 game, the week she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“We went out of shock and a search for normalcy,” Osborn said. “But it turned out to be a great launch to her battle, being with friends and acting normal.”
Kay Osborn now is a 14-year cancer survivor.
So OU-Texas matters to the Osborns. Richard Osborn is passionate about the rivalry. But he’s not necessarily passionate about the pandemic-stricken matchup.
Osborn knows the 2020 OU-Texas will be a very strange game in a very strange Cotton Bowl.
“To be honest it wasn’t essential to me to go this year,” said Osborn, an Oklahoma Citian who plans to attend with his son. “The games aren’t nearly as exciting without packed stadiums.”
Each university was allotted about a quarter of its usual tickets. The ancient stadium, expanded to 92,100 in recent years for OU-Texas, will host about 24,000 for the game. Even more startling will be the void created by the cancellation of the State Fair of Texas.
- Related to this story
- Article: OU football: Five takeaways from Sooners' 37-30 loss to Iowa State
- Article: OU football: Pat Fields says 'chalk it up to the game' about penalties against secondary
- Article: Tramel: OU football report card shows Sooners falling way behind Big 12 peers after Iowa State loss
- Article: OU football: Sooners QB Spencer Rattlers says Cyclones should've been flagged on final offensive play
- Article: OU football: Sooners' 37-30 loss at Iowa State by the numbers
- Article: Tramel: This OU football team isn't good enough to withstand momentum shift
- Article: OU football: Bests and worsts from Sooners' 37-30 loss to Iowa State
- Article: Tramel: OSU, Iowa State and Kansas State sit atop the Big 12 football rankings
- Article: OU football vs. Texas in Red River Showdown: Broadcast info, betting lines, matchup breakdown
- Article: OU football: Iowa State loss shows that Alex Grinch and the Sooners' defense have a tall task awaiting them
- Article: Tramel: OSU at 100-to-1 to win the national title is a good bet
- Video: OU Football: Defensive struggles continue
- Video: Speed Drawing: Kyler Murray
- Video: OU Football: Riley reviews loss to Cyclones
- Video: OU football: Rattler says Cyclones should've been flagged on final offensive play
- Video: OU Football: Sooners fall to Iowa State in Ames for time in decades
Fans who attended the OU-Arkansas Cotton Bowl Classic 19 seasons ago know the eerie feeling of an empty Fair Park. A few concessions will be open for football fans, including the iconic Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, but the scene will have a Day the Earth Stood Still feel.
“It's going to be weird,” said 81-year-old OU fan Dudley Patterson of Plano, Texas.
Patterson should know. He’s been to every OU-Texas game since 1948, the first year Coke bottles were banned at the game. In 1947, Sooner fans peppered the field with the glass projectiles, irate over referee Jack Sisco.
Patterson, who grew up in Hugo, went to OU, eventually got an industrial engineering degree from OSU and never has had Sooner season tickets. But he hasn’t missed OU-Texas since he was eight years old and Bud Wilkinson was in his first season as the Sooner coach.
Patterson gets his tickets a variety of ways, including game-day swaps at Fair Park. He’s always looking to trade up for better seats, even if it lands him on the Texas end of the Cotton Bowl.
“I can be as obnoxious as the Texans,” Patterson said.
This year, Patterson got a ticket from his daughter, a Texas graduate who lives in Greater Austin, so he’ll be sitting with the Longhorns.
“I've got to tone it down, my daughter says, because of the people we're sitting with,” Patterson said.
This will be Patterson’s 73rd straight OU-Texas game, and he says he’ll keep going “as long as I'm alive. Depending on some of those seats, it's getting hard for me to climb up and down those things.”
Patterson raves about the tradition. About Quentin Griffin’s six-touchdown performance in 2000 — “I couldn't hardly talk when I left that stadium” — and Patterson leaving the 2018 game early, only to learn that Kyler Murray had brought OU back from a 45-24 deficit.
“I just love that game,” Patterson said. “It's fantastic. That game just tears me up. It wears you out. I feel like I played, it's so exciting.”
Will the excitement remain with a remnant of a Cotton Bowl crowd and a silent Midway?
Norman Arnold would like to find out. The 54-year-old Edmond resident declined his OU season tickets this season, due to the coronavirus, and he knew that would take him out of OU-Texas consideration.
Arnold has attended 37 straight Red River showdowns. He’s hoping to secure a ticket as the fortunate fans start putting their prizes up for sale.
“I have been hooked,” Arnold said.
OU-Texas tradition runs deep in Arnold’s family. His parents were married the day of the 1956 OU-Texas game. Family lore tells stories of wedding attendees listening on transistor radios as Tommy McDonald tore up the Longhorns.
In 1990, Arnold went to the game with his girlfriend and an engagement ring stashed in his boot. He planned to pop the question after the game. But when R.D. Lashar’s 46-yard field-goal attempt drifted left on the final play of the game, Texas was a 14-13 winner. Arnold was so disappointed, he waited until they got back to Oklahoma to propose.
Arnold is a Sooner through and through. His daughter was an OU cheerleader. His son attends OU now. Arnold’s uncle was former Sooner great Eddie Crowder. Arnold’s father played tennis at OU in the 1950s. Arnold’s grandfather was a Sooner wrestler in the 1920s.
Now Arnold’s streak is in jeopardy. He hopes more tickets go up for sale Monday, when fans likely are to start receiving them digitally.
“What’s interesting is, there seems to be some, but far more on the Texas side,” Arnold said. “I don’t know if that’ll even matter that much.”
It won’t matter much to Osborn. He knows that the stadium experience will be diminished; the atmosphere will be nothing like normal. He knows that the entire weekend experience will be diminished.
“Our friends we annually go down with and make a weekend of — eating at Pappadeaux’s on Friday and Kobe after the game on Saturday, and then attending Stonebriar church to hear Chuck Swindoll preach Sunday mornings — have opted out and won’t be going,” Osborn said.
“Of course, without the fair, that’s just another excitement that won’t be there.”
The game goes on. The traditions do not. Streaks to be determined.
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 oklahoman.com/berrytramel.