Late to the Game: Does the Texas-Oklahoma Rivalry Transcend Football?

Late to the Game: Does the Texas-Oklahoma Rivalry Transcend Football?

Assistant editor Chris O’Connell isn’t from Texas; he’s from New Jersey. That’s OK though—he’s here now. But without growing up in a place that cherishes college sports the way many parts of the South—and especially Texas—do, Chris has taken it upon himself to learn more about all aspects of college athletics in a series we like to call Late to the Game.

Long before I descended on Austin, before I received my first-ever February sunburn, before I retired to heaven on Earth in Central Texas, I knew about the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry. My wife was born in Oklahoma in the year [redacted], and moved to Austin as a baby. Her relatives, all Oklahoma fans, still mostly live just outside Oklahoma City, so I’ve always been aware that burnt orange and crimson do not go together.

However, all I ever hear about is the Red River Rivalry Red River Shootout Red River Showdown in football, which, if you need reminding, is still tilted 60-44-5 in favor of the Longhorns. But what about the other sports? Do Longhorns care about defeating Oklahoma in everything? Will Sooners come out in droves for a UT game that isn’t played at the Cotton Bowl? What does a Fletcher’s corny dog taste like? I found out the answer to most of these questions this past Sunday in a scientific expedition to UFCU-Disch Falk Field for a baseball game between the two squads.

The game—which by the way, Texas lost 3-2—left a lot to be desired in the way of fanimosity . No one threw a corny dog at an adjacent-state rival. Zero children cried. I didn’t even see one fistfight.

In general the vibe was pretty tame, which may have been due to low Sooner turnout. During the game, I heard exactly one “OU sucks!” despite the abundance of draft beer and throwback tall cans of Miller Lite in attendees’ hands. This surprised me because I hear tons of “OU sucks” chants at DKR every year, and no one inside the stadium is in any way intoxicated, as beer and liquor sales are still prohibited. Also, OU doesn’t ever come to DKR, so this is still confusing to me. Maybe it’s like when Mets fans at CitiField scream “Yankees suck!” after trouncing the Diamondbacks. Alas. One OU fan sitting behind me didn’t even correct me when I loudly declared that Kolbey Carpenter was “the most Oklahoma name of all time.” Turns out he’s from Waco. Close enough.

I did, however, bear witness to a jab at my home state of New Jersey—from a Longhorn fan. When Sooner infielder Joshua Ake, came to the plate, his likeness and hometown appeared on the scoreboard. It was a tad unusual to see an Oklahoma player hail from Readington, New Jersey, but even moreso when a Texas superfan replete in a leather vest and cowboy hat invoked a classic Pace Salsa commercial from the ’80s.

“New Jersey?!” he screamed, during a particularly quiet moment during the game. “Get a rope!”

Regardless, I was not offended in any way. It was a well-timed and very humorous remark. Other than the Garden State dig and the lone Oklahoma slam, this game was relatively peaceful. Unfortunately.

However, this is merely regular-season baseball. I can recall during the College Baseball World Series last year that the Texas A&M-UT rancor was in full effect when the teams met. Of course, the stakes were much higher, and the clamoring for the revitalization of that rivalry gets louder every year. Recent news from A&M’s camp has surfaced that the teams will meet again starting in 2016. The lede to that story? “It’s not football, but …”

So what about other sports, especially ones in which both schools are competitive? Swimming and diving comes to mind, but Oklahoma doesn’t even have a team. Or a pool. Probably. Both men’s basketball teams are relatively average—until Shaka Smart’s Longhorns suffocate the rest of the Big 12 for years to come. Golf? Do people get mad over golf? Tennis anyone? No?

That seems to be the sentiment regarding Texas rivalries in other sports: A win over OU is a bit sweeter than most others, but ultimately, it’s not football. Nothing is.

And I still don’t know what a Fletcher’s corny dog tastes like.


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