Game of the Week

Message Board

ESPN Auctions
Tuesday, October 24
Updated: October 25, 7:21 PM ET
No more begging people to come see the Sooners

By Wayne Drehs

More from Norman
Woof! Woof!
With the demand for tickets at a premium in the area, one local radio station is giving a pair away each day this week to the 20th caller when they hear the song, "Who Let the Sooners Out?"

That's right, Oklahoma's take on the same tune that caught the attention of baseball's Mets, Mariners and Giants, as well as a host of other pro teams has caught on in the heartland as well. The song debuted last Monday, after Oklahoma's 41-31 win over Kansas State and has been the area's top No. 1 requested song since.

What schedule?
When Big 12 schedule makers finalized this year's slate for Oklahoma, most of the Sooner faithful cringed, with games against Big 12 rivals Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska -- all preseason national championship contenders -- sandwiched together.

But now, after convincing wins over the Longhorns and Wildcats, and Saturday's showdown with the Huskers looming, some are considering the schedule a blessing, since it doesn't allow Oklahoma room for a letdown.

"I think it worked out perfect," Stoops said. "It really helped our guys build up their confidence to where it needs to be."

If there is to be a letdown from this stretch, next week's opponent, 2-5 Baylor, could be dangerous.

NORMAN, Okla. -- It wasn't that long ago that Oklahoma sports information director Mike Prusinski had to beg people to cover Sooner football games.

Prusinski would travel to every small-town Oklahoma newspaper and magazine he could find, looking for someone, anyone to help fill the OU press box. The team was in the midst of six straight losing seasons, five years without a bowl appearance, and Prusinski was looking for whatever kind of coverage he could find.

That couldn't be furthest from the case this weekend.

Thanks to the resurgence of the No. 3 Oklahoma program and match-up against No. 1 Nebraska, the focus of the college football world once again turns to the Oklahoma plains. As of Tuesday, Prusinski's office had already issued 600 credentials for the game, far more than the 125 on a typical Sooner Saturday.

Hotels are filled throughout Norman and neighboring Oklahoma City for the first ever regular season 1 vs. 2 BCS match-up. It's a drastic increase in workload of Prusinski and his staff, but he wouldn't have it any other way.

"People forget, it was a struggle here for a long time," Prusinski said. "I would go out and beg the smaller newspapers and photographers, people that usually would never get a credential, just to come see us play."

On Tuesday, at Oklahoma's weekly media conference, Prusinski couldn't help but smile as he surveyed the scene. There was second-year coach Bob Stoops, the architect of the Sooner revival, standing at the podium in his red Sooner vest, talking about handling all this media attention.

Behind a curtain was kicker Tim Duncan, fielding questions about the pressure of a potential last-minute field goal. In a dark side room was linebacker Rocky Calmus, talking with national television reporters about the meaning of the Nebraska-Oklahoma rivalry.

All in all, reporters surrounded about ten different Sooners. It wasn't a new experience at Oklahoma, just one that hasn't been around since the 1980s.

"Geez -- it feels like the day I was hired with all you people here," Stoops joked. "It's good to see some of you."

Stoops took some extra time last week, an off-week for the Sooners, to explain to his team the importance of handling interviews and the pressure that accompanies them properly. After Tuesday's interview session, players were cut-off from the media for the rest of the week.

"It's all part of playing in big games and being in the national championship picture and that is where we expected to be, so you just have to go with it," Stoops said. "This group is smart enough that whatever is said just goes out the window."

Duncan said Stoops has made it a priority to ignore off the field distractions.

"All the attention is great, it's good to hear people saying nice things about Oklahoma football again, but we cannot worry about that stuff now," he said. "You just have to focus."

The return of the national spotlight could have brought a dilemma of sorts for Prusinski, as to whether or not he should continue giving credentials to the smaller papers. But he says there is little question in the matter.

"They were the ones who were here, watching and covering the team in the down days," Prusinski said, "So they have to stay."

 ESPN Tools
Email story
Most sent
Print story