NORMAN — What happens inside a college football locker room during halftime almost always stays within those walls.
On Saturday, an Oklahoma City photojournalist tweeted that Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Bolton walked out of the locker room and onto the Texas State Fairgrounds for a brief moment before being brought back inside the stadium.
Speculation has run from the believable to the bizarre on Bolton’s decision at intermission of the Oklahoma-Texas game.
“(It was) blown out of proportion a little bit,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said Monday. “I think after the half, just emotional. Sometimes guys get emotional and have to remove themselves from the situation a little bit.
“That’s a heated game. That’s a heated locker room. Curtis has been a warrior for us all year. He’s one of our emotional leaders no question, wears his heart on his sleeve like some of our guys do. I think that was probably something that was blown out of proportion a little bit.”
A source with direct knowledge of Saturday’s situation agreed with Riley.
“At most, it was an outburst from a player. He stormed out of the room,” the source said. “A couple of people went after him and he was back inside in a matter of minutes.”
Dusty Dvoracek, a former OU player and radio host on the Sports Animal, said during his Tuesday show safety Jordan Parker and linebackers coach Tim Kish took Bolton back into the locker room.
Dvoracek also targeted a wild rumor mill, which included sports radio talk, about a physical altercation at halftime. Dvoracek, who is still heavily linked inside the program, called that talk “ridiculous.”
Bolton has responded via social media a few times after the Sooners’ 48-45 loss.
After the game, Bolton tweeted: “Back to work tomorrow. Outside opinions don’t affect my life no way. Believe what you wanna believe, don’t really care what anyone outside this locker room thinks about me or this team. Don’t be a fan later.”
Bolton, a redshirt senior with the Sooners, is an emotional player on the field. He’s also been very candid during interview sessions with media.
The linebacker, who reportedly is playing with a shoulder injury, is also the team’s leading tackler with 75 stops.
Riley said emotions ran high last Saturday. When asked if he needed to talk some players down, he said, “If I got guys that are too emotional or care too much, I can deal with that problem.”
Bolton started the first defensive series of the second half against Texas.
It’s very rare OU’s players give a peek inside the halftime locker room. For example, during intermission of last year’s game at Kansas State and facing a 21-10 deficit, some shared that Riley lit into the team. OU won that game 42-35.
During Saturday’s game — given the stakes and rivalry — it was a heated affair. Riley said sideline or locker room blowups aren’t unusual inside the Cotton Bowl.
“I’ve never had an OU-Texas game where there weren’t emotional outbursts at halftime,” Riley said. “Hell, I was one of ‘em. That’s college football. I’ve been in locker rooms we’ve been up 35-0 and had emotional outbursts.
“I mean, that’s reality inside the ropes as opposed to outside the ropes.”