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Oklahoma Football – Bad Bedlam: Howard Schnellenberger, Les Miles, Tyreek Hill

Schnelly Drops the Ball – by Allen Kenney

Nicolas Cage was tickling our funny bones with his Oscar-winning turn in the madcap “Leaving Las Vegas”. Our hearts and minds were opening up every weekend to David Spade and the rest of the crew at “Saturday Night Live.” Rednex dropped the infectious single “Cotton Eye Joe” – and bar mitzvahs would never be the same again.

The year was 1995, and when the Oklahoma Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys met on Nov. 11 at Owen Field, nearly 20 years had passed since OSU’s last win in the Bedlam rivalry.

Even as the Sooners wandered the wilderness post-NCAA probation in the late 1980s, they maintained their grip on the in-state series. A tie in 1992 was the closest the Pokes had come to toppling OU since their 31-24 win in 1976.

The ‘95 edition of the Cowboys coached by Bob Simmons entered the game versus OU with a record of 2-7 and little left to play for the rest of the season. Under first-year head coach Howard Schnellenberger, the Sooners weren’t exactly setting the world on fire with a 5-3-1 record. Still, given the history of the series, no one expected this would be the year OSU broke its losing streak.

Sixteen-year-old me certainly couldn’t envision that.

A friend from a devoutly pro-Aggie household had invited me to make the trip west with him and his parents on I-44 from Tulsa to Norman for the game. Saturday morning basketball practice gave us a late start out of T-Town, but when we arrived at the stadium late in the first quarter, we found out we hadn’t missed much.

Once we reached the stands, I discovered our tickets were in the tiny allocation given to OSU, which probably made me the first OU fan in history to sit in the designated Pokes zone for a game at Owen Field. An interloper among the invaders of my team’s turf, the patrons surrounding our seats quickly filled us in on the action so far.

Apparently, the Sooners were back on their typical bullshit, and, per usual, the conspiratorial Big 8 officiating crew had made it clear they had no intention of giving OSU a shot at winning. Hell, it didn’t really matter, though, because OSU offensive coordinator Les Miles still couldn’t tell the difference between his ass and his elbow.

I soon figured out that our tardiness had actually spared us from a quarter of one of the worst games in college football history. OU averaged a pathetic 4.2 yards per play on offense; OSU produced an even more pathetic 3.5 yards per snap.

Miles’ anatomical issues aside, the Pokes did do one thing on offense far better than the home team: not turn the ball over. OSU capitalized on three Sooner giveaways to score 12 points – the only points either team scored all day.

As the final seconds ticked away, the kind of euphoria that comes from ending nearly two decades of frustration at the hands of your most loathsome rival set in around our microscopic sliver of the stadium. Given the atrocity we had all just witnessed on the field that afternoon, it was a bit like watching people celebrate the fact they didn’t get food poisoning.

Schnellenberger made it one more game as head coach of the Sooners, a pistol-whipping from the No. 1-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers that ran OU’s final record to 5-5-1. He resigned under duress soon after that with just one season as head coach under his belt. Ultimately, the zero on OU’s side of the scoreboard against OSU that day served as a fitting metaphor for Schnellenberger’s tenure in Norman.

Witnessing that game definitely left its mark on me, though.

Les Miles: The Spoiler – by Jack Shields

Let’s revisit one of the most chaotic weekends in the history of Big 12 football, shall we?

Back in the early days of computer rankings, undefeated Nebraska held the No. 1 spot heading into Thanksgiving weekend, while the one-loss Sooners sat behind the legendary 2001 Miami Hurricanes at No. 3 in the BCS Standings. However, the Huskers had a Friday date with the Buffs, and eventual Heisman winner Eric Crouch would fall victim to Boulder and the “SI Cover Jinx”.

The door had swung wide open for the Sooners, who were set to face 3-7 Okie State in Norman the following afternoon. Under first-year head coach Les Miles, OSU had managed to defeat Louisiana Tech, Northwestern State and Baylor (back when Baylor was Baylor), and it was looking like the brief stretch of Bedlam parity was well behind us.


We all fondly remember Mark Mangino, but for a number of reasons (injuries, conservative play-calling, youth along the offensive line, etc.), his 2001 offense was not exactly a masterpiece. Nate Hybl and the Sooners struggled mightily against a determined OSU defense, which allowed Miles’ squad to hang around for far too long. It all culminated in one of the most iconic and painful moments in the history of the series.

Everything about this experience still irritates me to this day. Do you guys remember Thunder Sticks? They seem to be a rarity at this point, but they were quite possibly the most annoying thing to come out of the early 2000s (Nickelback became a thing in the early 2000s, so that’s saying something). Anyway, the kid directly behind me kept clanging these stupid things together, and I reached my limit at some point in the second half. If only for a brief period of time, my 12-year-old self became a middle-aged man.

“Are you going to bang those darned things together all afternoon?”

At that very moment, my t-shirt tucked itself into my jeans, and a beige bucket hat appeared from the heavens and gently came to rest atop my head.

The Oklahoma State fans in attendance were not much better. As is always the case when the Aggies come out on top, they celebrated as if they’d just won the Super Bowl. I really don’t have a problem with that (in principle, at least) when taking the context of the rivalry into consideration, but I was obviously not trying to have that shit.

After the loss, OU and its fans were sentenced to appear at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. If you’ve never been to the State Fair of Texas in January, I implore you to keep it that way. OSU, on the other hand, was without a bowl berth, but Miles would carry the momentum into the following season and beyond. As it turned out, it would take two years for OU to shut him up, but it was glorious once it finally happened.

Reek – by Jack Shields

As you recall, Bob Stoops committed the biggest on-field gaffe of his career in the 2014 edition of Bedlam. To add insult to injury, a weird individual sitting behind me kept referencing Game of Thrones every time Tyreek Hill became involved.

“Your name is Reeeeek.”

Okay, I’ll admit that I laughed the first time it happened, but then it just became creepy. I’m not going to go into much detail about the relationship between Ramsey Bolton (then Ramsey Snow) and Theon Greyjoy (then “Reek”), but if you’re not a Thrones person, just know that it involved its fair share of physical and mental torture.

With a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, Bob decided to accept a penalty and elected to re-punt to the man who is currently the biggest open-field threat in all of football.

“Your name is Reeeeek.”

Predictably, “Reek” went full-Ramsey and took Bob’s “favorite toy” in the process.

I’m a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, but I now think of Ramsey and “Reek” every time Hill does something spectacular, which tends to put a damper on things. Huge thanks to Bob Stoops and the weirdo sitting behind me (whoever you are).

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