When you’re born and raised in Norman, and your first childhood home is less than two miles from Owen Field, you get indoctrinated to Oklahoma football early.
That was the case for me. Born in the sixties, but my most vivid memories of OU football come from the 70s.
And none was bigger than the Sooners 29-28 victory over Ohio State in Columbus in September of 1977.
There were other games that attracted more attention than that battle with the Buckeyes, the 1971 Thanksgiving Day Game of the Century with Nebraska comes to mind, but it’s that win over Ohio State that still stands out to me.
I’m sure just about everyone my age remembers where they were that day.
For me, it was right there in the living room of our Norman Oakhurst edition home, sweating out what would be a win that would come to define “Sooner Magic.”
It was the brash, young Barry Switzer matching up with the old school Woody Hayes. It was two of the most tradition rich programs squaring off on a fall Saturday afternoon, and it ended up a classic.
Everybody remembers the Uwe von Schamman field goal to win it. Probably the most famous single moment in OU football history.
However, I remember thinking how easy it looked like early. The Sooners jumping out to a 20-0 lead. Ohio State looking overmatched with the OU wishbone and its speed.
Then Thomas Lott got hurt, Billy Sims got hurt, and the Buckeyes got back in the game, eventually leading 28-20 late, before the heroics of backup quarterback Dean Blevins, and of course, Von Foot won it in dramatic style for the Sooners.
As a kid, sometimes I would leave the room for huge plays in big games involving OU, not this time. I stayed right there in my comfy sofa seat and saw von Schamman’s kick sail right through the uprights.
What a moment.
The Sooners of the seventies were it for me. The wishbone, the speed, the swagger, the running backs. Heck, even the afros and the bandanas. Those OU teams were just better than everybody else, and cooler than everybody else.
In those days, an Oklahoma loss was almost unthinkable, and required a couple days of grieving for a lot of kids around the state who lived for Sooner football Saturday’s.
Somehow, Switzer’s teams would find a way to win by 50, or win with a miracle, and if they didn’t, something was wrong with the universe.
After the OU win in Columbus that day, I remember Woody’s reaction. I recall thinking “this guy doesn’t taking losing very well.” At that time, he was college football’s “get off my lawn guy.”
The next year, Woody punched a Clemson’s Charlie Bauman when the Buckeyes lost late to the Tigers in the Gator Bowl.
I can remember being at an early morning basketball practice at Norman High the next day, when we found out that Woody was fired, less than 24 hours after the incident.
That era of Ohio State football was over. The Sooners monumental win over that Woody coached team will last a lifetime.