When Oklahoma and Texas meet on October 14th, it will be a matchup of two coaches in their first year at the helm of these storied programs. According to both school’s media guides, this phenomenon has happened on four different occasions.
The meeting of new head men has not been kind to the Sooners with the Horns holding a 3-0-1 edge in such matchups.
In 1902 in his only year on the job, JB Heart knocked off Mark McMahon 22-6. Jack Chevigny would get one of his four wins in 1935 against Lawrence Jones’ OU team 12-7. Heck, even Bud Wilkinson lost his first game to a new Texas coach Blair Cherry 34-14. The Sooners only non-loss was when Thom Stidham tied Dana X. Bible 7-7 in 1937.
Lincoln Riley has all the tools on offense to reverse this trend. OU has the best offensive line in the Big 12, a tight end that could play in the NFL, and a Heisman candidate quarterback. None of these factors guarantee a win over Tom Herman, but for the last two years, Riley has been watching this week up close. He’s dealt with all the distractions; he knows what issues, if any, need to be fixed to keep OU focused. Riley says, “You just gotta understand that game’s a little different you can’t pretend that it’s not.” “I think we had a better plan as far as mindset going into this game for last year I think that will definitely help us going forward.”
Let’s hope he’s right. Despite having their eulogies written, both Charlie Strong and Mack Brown managed to beat Oklahoma when they had no business doing so.
Bob Stoops showed us that setting a tone early in your career against Texas goes a long way, making you a legend.
By all accounts, we are looking at a ten-year war of epic proportions between Riley and Herman; the battles are already playing out on the recruiting trails with flips happening on both sides. This week, Ron Tatum from Putnam City, who was verbally committed to UT, is now pledging his loyalty to Oklahoma. Getting Tatum to stay in his home state makes up for California quarterback Cameron Rising (a long-time Oklahoma commitment) choosing to go to Austin.
If Riley turns Tatum, maybe he can turn the Sooner’s fortunes in the battle of first-time head coaches.