Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My First OU-Texas Game

As I prepare to embark on my 25th OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, I am taken back to my very first experience at the Texas State Fair. The year was 1982. I was eight. My brother had the two tickets this year. My parents ran the drug store and somehow we got the 2 tickets my family of 6 was allotted.

I was so excited. I probably didn't sleep much after Wednesday night. We left early on Saturday morning. Being so young, I had a short memory of the series. However, unlike most 8 year olds, I was aware of the series record, past history, etc. But from live action memory, I only knew of Oklahoma losses. I remembered 1979, a 16-7 loss. I was at Papa and Mamadoes. I remember Papa turning off the TV as Texas ran out the clock. He was peeved. The eighties brought on more of the same. Seems like a 20-13 and a 34-14 loss. Any journalist--or blogger--worth his salt would look that up. I'm just cocky enough to fire off those scores without looking. The only way to prove I didn't research it would be to get a score wrong. Oh sweet irony...

So we get to the fair. We ride a roller coaster. That was also a first for me. And then we went into the game. We sat just left of the ramp. I remember watching the players come up the ramp. I was so overwhelmed. I knew that I must never miss this game again!

Texas, I seem to recall, led early, but OU was able to take a lead. Then, it happened. Well, he happened. Marcus Dupree. A seldom used true freshman that had all the acclaim that Adrian Peterson had. Switzer had not played him much leading up to the game. He was probably saving him as a secret weapon. I think Barry mentioned, publicly, that Marcus just wasn't ready yet. What, to pick up blitzes? OU never threw. OU's offense was simple. Get ball. Hold on to ball. Run fast with ball like you stole it.

Number 22 went for like 163 that day. Texas never knew what hit 'em. OU won 28-22.

I was so happy. We left the fair, hit a fun house or two on the way out, cheered with fellow Sooner fans and headed out to my brother's 1980 Monte Carlo. A young neighborhood kid asked us who won. When we told him OU he celebrated. I thought that was cool. Kids are smart in Texas, I contemplated.

So Saturday I will walk into the fair for the 25th time. I have witnessed 12 OU wins, 10 losses, and 2 ties. There are lots of stories. I have seen bad calls, bad performances, upsets (usually by Texas, unfortunately), and fantastic finishes (all won by Texas).

The only things I have really learned about the game are the following:
1. The "Mo". Never seen momentum swing like in this game. If it's on your side, you better take advantage. Soon Texas will get it and when they do, they will capitalize. 2000 was the only year I can ever remember when Texas never had it. Not for a second.
2. If Texas is the better team, they win. If OU is slightly the better team, Texas usually wins. If OU is overwhelmingly better, OU usually wins. I have only seen this rule broken once. 1996.
3. Texas fans are always late for the game. Weird. They all wear shirts that say "Come early, Stay late, Be loud." Apparently that is a suggestion.

Finally, my reminiscings.
1. 1984. Total ripoff. We won 15-12 and I'll always believe that. I was at Oregon in 2006 and that was also a huge travesty. This one was worse and bigger. Stansbury intercepted that pass and it wasn't close. In today's game, even Pac 10 officials would have overturned that call.
2. 1985. We were awesome. They were terrible. We ran the bone which was overwhelming to weak opponents but didn't stop the clock. Therefore we were up 31-0 at half and eased to a 47-12 win. In today's spread passing game, we would have beaten them as bad as we wanted given the talent discrepancy. And I mean something like 77-0 unless we chose to take a knee the entire 4th quarter.
3. 1989-1991. Texas won those 3 games (and 1992 to take 4 in a row after OU won 4 straight). Three of the most painful losses in the series for me. Why? OU was decidedly better all 3 years. In fact, even in all 3 games OU was better. Especially 1990. Watch that replay and you will never figure out how Texas won. Same with 1991. OU was actually better in 1992 as well, but not as much, and definitely not that day. Texas drilled us. But in 89-91 triumvirate, OU controlled the games--statistically, in the trenches, everywhere. We just never managed to put the games away. Texas won all 3 in the end. In 1991 we led 7-3 the whole game, then fumbled at the end and they ran it in. Those were tough losses to swallow. Kind of a microcosm of why Texas leads the series while having the lesser program. They just always seemed to win the games that came down to the wire.
4. 1996. We had no business winning. But we did. It was the salve game. For all the times Texas won and shouldn't, this was the mother revenge game. While the gap wasn't as bad as 1985, Texas was about a 20 point favorite. But OU seized some magic late in the game, tied it and pulled it out in overtime. OU was 0-4 coming in and Texas won the Big 12 that year. That was the first year for the Big 12. Literally, that game along with the Syracuse game the following year, was the only bright spot in John Blake's career.
5. 2000-2004. Five in a row. 63-14. 14-3. 35-24. 65-13. 12-0. I wondered if Texas might ever beat us again. We owned them. I miss that OU. I miss that Bob Stoops. We had swagga (sorry Miami). The 63-14 game was just domination. Texas just couldn't get going. The 65-13 game was strange because Texas hung in there and had some things going for them, then in the middle of the second quarter the wheels just came off and they quit. The 12-0 game was amazing because we had AD and they had VY. Great defense. The 14-3 game had the Roy Williams Superman play.

Those are just a few memories. I have many. And I don't regret going to any of them. Even the game I had a sideline pass and Ricky Williams scored about 9 touchdowns. Well, until the next blog, Texas sucks and Boomer Sooner!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sand, Rock, your choice.

As I have been reassessing our youth ministry and thinking about how we teach, what we teach, and even how we raise our kids altogether, many, many thoughts have gone through my mind. Am I overprotecting? Am I helping parents or competing with them? Am I doing everything I can to be a good resource to our parents? Am I teaching things that are on point and relevant and, most of all, useful? Then, I showered.

Showers are great. Not only do they help one hygienically,  but they also create a dampened closet of solitude to process one's thoughts and allow for what is often the only moment of meditation of the day. This can often lead to using all of the hot water which, ironically, will put me in more!

But back to the point, I was thinking in the shower as I squirted Dial (manly) shower gel onto my loofah (not so much). And I thought about the story Jesus told about the man who builds his house on the sand versus the man who builds on solid rock. Of course, it is a simple story. The houses in this parable represent our faith. The sand and rock represent the foundation. What is my faith built upon? What is it made of? What am I living for? Christ or a mirage of following Christ?

Simple enough.

But in our culture, we have created another option. An option that Jesus failed to mention--perhaps he didn't think of it--in his parable. That is the option of building elsewhere. In our Christian subculture, we have decided that this parable is not all-inclusive. Jesus says storms will come, build on rock. We say, better yet, why don't we build where storms don't come! Take your rock, I'm going to San Diego! We think we can dodge storms, but we cannot. We try to keep our kids from hearing about sex, being around druggies, and seeing bad things on the 10:00 news, but somehow the storms do find us.

Therefore, I am choosing to help our students find the rock. No more teaching them to run from storms. No more avoidance of difficult subjects to avoid difficult phone calls and emails from over-protective parents. We must create a place where students can discuss taboo subjects. We have always said we want our kids to learn about sex from us (parents, the church) before they learn it in the locker room. But what about evolution? Church or science class? Difficult faith issues, church or philosophy class?

I am not sure I need to tell kids what to think. I don't know if teaching apologetic is enough. I think we need to ignite in students a passion to know the truth, to seek the truth, and to connect the truth with God. Because God = Truth. If it's true, then God made it that way. Instead of solely teaching our kids what to believe, why don't we spend more time showing them what rock looks like? Where its found. How to build on it.

Those are my thoughts. Please weigh in with yours.