Sooners have one of the most iconic looks in college football: 'It’s hard to get too far away from them'
NORMAN — There are iconic looks in all sports.
The pinstripes of the New York Yankees. The Dallas Cowboys’ star. The Showtime gold of the Los Angeles Lakers. The winged wheel of the Detroit Red Wings. The interlocking OU on Sooners’ football.
While teams like Oklahoma State and Oregon change their looks from game to game, the Sooners are one of the most reliably stable teams in college football when it comes to their look.
“I would rather have it like this than have 50 different combinations and not have one that’s true to who you are,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “Ours are so iconic.”
Along with programs like Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and Alabama, the Sooners regularly appear at the top of various rankings of the best uniforms in the sport.
For about 60 years, the Sooners haven’t had any stripes or trim on their primary uniforms. For about 40 years, the road whites and crimson home uniforms have featured a bold “Sooners” atop the number.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Riley said. “The other ones are cool and fun, but ours are so good it’s hard to get too far away from them.”
Even the alternates the Sooners have added in recent years have become a staple themselves.
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In 2014, OU introduced the “Roughrider” look — crimson and cream helmets, tops and pants that can be used in a variety of combinations. The helmets feature contrasting stripes with a larger logo and the tops feature “Oklahoma” instead of “Sooners” with trim elements that are absent on the primary uniforms.
“We tried to think about how it would be rooted and what it would look like in representing the University of Oklahoma so we want all the way back to the earliest years when Oklahoma football was played and tried to study some of the different uniform combinations that they had back then,” athletic director Joe Castiglione said a few years ago.
In each year since their introduction, the Sooners have worn the alternates for one road and one home game during the regular season. In 2018, they added another game when they elected to wear the Roughrider look against Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game.
Typically, the schedule to wear the alternates is worked out well in advance.
They’ve worn them once this year, in the 38-35 home loss to Kansas State on Sept. 26.
It was the second time the Sooners have worn alternates against the Wildcats. They’ve worn them against West Virginia five times — and there’s a good chance that this year’s Nov. 28 game in Morgantown makes it six. They’ve worn them five times against Baylor and once each against Iowa State, Kansas and Texas.
The Sooners are 11-3 in the Roughrider alternates since they were introduced before the 2014 season.
The Sooners have generally worn the alternates in games where they were heavily favored, so it’s not a big surprise that their record against the spread is a bit worse. According to Oddsshark.com’s database of historical lines, the Sooners are 8-5-1 in those games.
Riley hinted that it could be closing in on time to give the alternates an update.
“You’re always kind of looking for the next thing and hopefully here in the future we can land on something pretty good,” Riley said.
Riley said though the introduction of a new look wasn’t scheduled to happen this year, that the COVID-19 pandemic could slow down a new look.
“We constantly have discussions about if we were to evolve and we were to do something different, what would we do? And when would we do it?”