Monday, July 31, 2006
I hear it almost everyday, I heard it this morning, I heard it yesterday, and there is probably a 100% chance I will hear it tomorrow. "Hey! but you are in Texas now, how can a Sooner fan survive in Texas?"
Really it is not that hard. Especially when both OU and UT have had the success that both schools have enjoyed over the past 5 or 6 years. Not to mention that from my driveway, Norman is a shorter drive than Austin. But with both schools fan's having much pride and hatred for the other, I actually have managed to 'stay out of trouble' when it comes to 'jawing' back and fourth
But there is one common theme between both these sets of fans. Both love to hate each other and rarely miss a chance to show that to one another. But here are a few comparisons to note:
* Both school's fight songs are a 'rip off' from other songs. Texas ripped off 'Taps' while Oklahoma ripped off the Yale fight song, 'boola boola'.
* Both schools have live animals on the field during home games. OU has 'Boomer' and 'Sooner' (two horses that pull the Sooner Schooner) while UT has a Longhorn steer named 'Bevo'.
* The majority of both schools rosters are comprised of players from the state of Texas.
* Since 1945, both school are ranked #1 and #2 in games won (OU 516 wins, UT 494 wins)
So OU 'two-a-days' begin this week thus kicking off probably my favorite time of the year. The Nascar season is getting 'Chase Happy', and Saturdays will be filled with Marching Bands, TDs, tail gating and school spirit. Although I am a Nascar Junky, there is nothing better than 'game day' in Norman. (Probably one could say that about 30 to 40 other colleges towns as well) The point is that the passion of college football is the best, and especially in Norman.
From the 'South Oval' walk, to Campus Corner to hear the "Pride's" Drumline do their thing, to the somewhat endless EZ-Up tents along Lindsey street, to the 'last beer' at O'Connell's before heading into the stadium to watch the "PRIDE" march in. (there is nothing better than hear that first 'tap, tap, tap' of the snare drum sounding of the cadence for the first chorus of 'BOOMER SOONER' with a crowd of 84,000+ on their feet counting down the DRUM MAJOR's 'high step'. To singing the Alma Mater while razing that 'number one' finger in the air, not being arrogant but more of a symbolic gesture that shows the greatness of the university and the unity between all Sooners. Or to see the SOONER SCHOONER roll out after the first OU TD with the Ruf-nek queen riding pointing the 'number one' high in the air! Or to casually say 'Boomer', and get a resounding 'Sooner!' response from others who you don't even know, but share a common bond. That is OKLAHOMA FOOTBALL.
But what really sets OU FOOTBALL apart from many schools is the winning tradition, expectation, and a 'success' bar that is set very high. Where 8 and 9 win season is a 'down year'. Most schools would be having parades for their teams with a 'Holiday Bowl' win, but at OU it was just a 'rebuilding' year. but even in 'rebuilding' years sites like this can be seen. Now honestly, is 8-4 that bad when seeing this? At OU it still is. Just sayin.
I will never forget my first 'game day' in Norman over 30 years ago. I hope I have the opportunity to see 30 more of those years.
Now that being said, there are a few other school's that I consider the 'honorable mention' list.
1) Alabama -- When OU played there a few years ago, I think many OU fans learned a lession on how to treat visiting team's fans. This was the most fun road trip ever!
2) Texas A&M -- While the school is very 'cult like', one should never pass up a chance to go to mid night yell practice and watching the Cadets march in. Not a bad band either if you like that 'follow the leader' stuff.
3) Grambling/Prarie View @ the Cotton Bowl - Yes, I have been to the 'battle of the bands', and also saw a pretty good football game as well.
Games I want to go to:
1) Va Tech -- I want to go to one of those late season games, I'll bring a heavy coat too!
2) Oregon -- Loudest 45,000 seat stadium in the world
3) Army-- To take a boat up the Hudson River, to catch a game would be a one of a kind.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Note to Elliott Sadler............................... The Times........................... they are a changin! and so is this long time race fan
It was just a little over two years ago I wrote an article on Catchfence.com in which I praised Elliott Sadler, the driver that I had followed since the '97 season and his team's great attitude and frankly, most everything associated with Elliott at that time. I wrote this article after seeing him win a race live at TMS, and the last thing on my mind back then was that it just very well maybe the last opportunity to see that again. My what can change in such a short time.
But what really has changed for the 'Southern Gentleman'? A few observations from one of his original fans.
* All his life he has rarely had to endure much real adversity and it shows today. A common theme with the Sadlers is the 'its not my fault’ syndrome. We saw it with his older brother and his continual sponsorship issues, and we saw it with Elliott with his Wood Brothers departure, and are seeing it today with RYR. We even hear it with the almost weekly whining about the car's perfomance.
* While there is little to complain about the work of his spotter on race days, the job that the very same person does as 'personal manager' leaves one scratching their heads. It seems that like the driver, winning a couple of races, and a few poles has gone to their collective heads. And sadly when they don’t get the value for an item that they have put for sell on Ebay, there is always 'spotter38' there to shill the bid and jack that price up. Note to Brett, if you are going to commit such an illegal act, at the very least come up with a name that won’t connect you.
* To go along with the above, there is the ever-present ruse of 'a portion will go to charity' excuse. Not only were the guidelines of Ebay Charitable Sales not followed, and when legitimate questions by your own fan club members concerning this auction, the deflections and sweeping under the carpet was so prevalent that the very place that the item was advertised had to be censored and eventually shut down. (Of course, to be re-opened later for a posting privilege fee) If there was nothing to hide, then why was this needed?
* Even the Elliott and Hermie Sadler Foundation itself were questioned by a number of SFC members and to my knowledge not one of those legitimate and legal questions were answered. In fact, the spin Brett via email put on this was 'if you are a true fan of Elliott, you know about his foundation'. That is an interesting way of putting it Brett. In other words, you want members of the SFC to blindly drink the Kool-aid you and Elliott serve up. While that maybe fine for 'huge fans' (as Brett put it), but for others who actually want to know where their charitable donations go, that dog just won't hunt. Sadly what Brett didn't have the smarts to understand, was that almost every 'foundation information' question asked, the answers were available at www.give.org and www.guidestar.org/. The fact that Brett refused to disclose this information speaks volumes for the deceptiveness and nature of these fund-raising tactics. Months after the Ebay auction and the transaction had been completed, Brett could not (or would not) answer just what was the exact percentage of the gross sale that actually went to the Foundation. Even today, this question has been refused to be answered.
* Along with the above of course there is the 'greed' factor. As far as I can tell, the preliminary price for being a 'true Sadler fan' is 15 bucks ($20 if you have a family) and this get you what? For starters a nice little 'bag of stuff' usually comprised of surplus fan club items. But it doesn't stop there!
* The Southern Gentleman really only had one rule when it came to his Fan Club, and that was to "leave Elliott's private and personal life alone". Who can really complain about wanting that? Seems very reasonable to me, until the public post and even a write up on the Fan Club website promoting Elliott's official 'MY SPACE' account. Brett, did you really think this one out? It is understandable that you wanted to get rid of the 'fake' MS Elliott accounts, but you had no clue that you could have done that without signing up for an account. The simple fact is that you and Elliott got sucked into the MS world and by doing that (along with your other few of Elliott's 'incognito' accounts) have opened Pandora's box concerning Elliott's private life. From the 'doesn't drink' comment to the 'its all about the Benjamins' comment only further fuels the fire that this Southern Gentleman is a lot less honest than we have been led to believe. (BTW, that is a really flattering picture of you and Jamie Mac posing at the lake. For someone that doesn’t drink, Elliott, you sure do hold that bottle of Bud well)
* So now in 7 short years, not only has Elliott broke not one, but two contractual agreements with his car owner(s). Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. This season and with your recent exit announcement, I will judge you just as I judged the driver whose seat you took. You both have about the same amount of integrity these days; remember all the 'I am happy at RYR' comments? You should be able to, after all you made them just a few months ago. Like the former driver, you strung out your owner with public comments, yet your actions spoke a different tune. Where is Larry Lacky when you need him? You know, someone that might knock some sense into you. But keep that water bottle ready at all times! Just in case.
As much as it pains me to say, (this is coming from a fan that can tell you the car you passed in the final few laps to earn your first 'top ten' finish in your rookie season) you should be removed from your 'dream job' post-haste, as not only your sponsor, race team and yes, your fans, deserve more of an effort than what your are willing to offer. It maybe 'all about the Benjamins' to you and your spotter, but I would rather be a fan of a driver struggling to stay on the lead lap who has some honesty and integrity, than one that speaks with a forked tongue. Some day you may understand that and someday 'quiet confidence' may return as well. But I am not holding my breath.