Red River Shootout. Red River Rivalry. OU-Texas weekend. (sorry Longhorns, I can’t and never will refer to it as Texas-OU weekend like you do!) The mere mention of these phrases brings out a hatred that is hard to explain. Why the animosity between two teams, two states, and two sets of fans? So much so that even the name of the game changes depending on where you’re from!
I went to OU after being born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. I really didn’t know what I was getting into! I do remember everyone making plans to go to Dallas for the game my first year there and thinking, “we’re going to Dallas for a game? I’m in!” I was in and I was in awe.
I have now lived in Austin for 26 years. You’d think that after that long of time I’d have an even tiny bit of allegiance to the hometown team. Never. Ever. I could live in ANY other city or town in America (well, maybe not Stillwater) and be capable of rooting for the home team against anyone but my Sooners, but the Longhorns? No way. Jose. I don’t even like the color orange. It hasn’t always been easy living in the enemy’s backyard, but I’ve never wavered. I love my Longhorn friends but I love when my team beats theirs almost more than life itself. Okay, maybe not more than life but it does bring me a joy that I live with for a whole year.
The first game was played in 1900 and is named after the river that runs along the border between the two states. Even though the Red River is often hardly a river, there is something magical about the game. Number one being that it is played every year on neutral ground at the old Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The venue is logistically half-way between the two schools and offers one of the most memorable experiences as a student. Being that the stadium sits right in the middle of the Texas State Fair just adds to the festivities. Mingle around the rides and fried food booths on the second Saturday of October and you’ll see nothing but Crimson and Cream and Burnt Orange. You’ll hear words and shouts you normally don’t (which is the main reason we never took Kristen to the game until she was in middle school!) and although those dishing them out are vocal and appear confident and cocky, inside they are most likely just a tad nervous. I’m a wreck every year. Rankings don’t matter in this game. Records can be thrown out the window. Anything can happen and everything has.
Something else that makes the game so special is how the Cotton Bowl seating is configured for this game. Normally opposing fans sit on either side of a stadium. Not so in Dallas. The Sooner and Longhorn faithful are configured in two “U” shaped areas. Those lucky enough to get 50-yard-line seats are also unlucky in that they sit right next to their opponents. This proves awesome for the winners, but for the losers, it is humiliating. The seating also means that walking out of that stadium a loser is a first hand lesson in humility and embarrassment walking down the ramps amid jeers that your team sucks! Every year there is talk of making the game a “home and away” series, but each time it’s voted down. As a dues paying OU alum, I steadfastly vote no and always will. As much as I would love to have the game and Kristen and her friends in Austin every other year, I remember how much fun it was to go to the game as a student and I want that same thrill for every current and future student.
But why the hatred between two legions that are really pretty much the same? Being that I didn’t grow up in either Oklahoma or Texas but having lived in both, I can honestly say Okies and Texans are very, very alike. I know they both hate hearing this, but sorry friends, it’s true. Dallas and Oklahoma City have the style and swagger, OKC and Houston have the oil history, and Tulsa and Austin have the rolling hills and a river running through them. In between them all are small towns filled with good ole boys and gorgeous gals. Both states love their football, love their religions, and love their guns. They are both, for the most part, friendly types and are the subjects and writers of many a country music song. Personally I have a Texas born but Sooner bred daughter so I guess you could say she is the best of both worlds!
In today’s 107th meeting of Oklahoma and Texas, you’ll hear many a “Texas Sucks” and “OU Sucks” and once the coin is tossed and kick-off gets things rolling, tension will be at an all-time high. I will be thinking of Kristen as she works the game in the press box and I’m wishing so badly I was there but I’ve got my flag flying outside my Austin home and will be hoping and praying that it’s those from Oklahoma who are happy walking down those ramps. Boomer Sooner!