|Saturday, October 28
Sooner or later, goalposts coming down
By Wayne Drehs
NORMAN, Okla. -- They said it couldn't be done. That it wouldn't be done. And that anybody trying would be sent to jail.
Yet 20 minutes after the Sooners thumped Nebraska to likely earn a No. 1 ranking for the first time in over a decade, the goalpost in the South end zone started to wobble.
The PA announcer declared, "Please get away from the goalpost, for your own safety. Anyone caught trying to take down the goalpost will be prosecuted."
But nobody budged. In fact, the sea of Crimson that covered Owen Field inched closer and closer to the neon yellow beams. Everyone in the stadium that wasn't on the field stopped. And watched. The exits clogged.
Despite two weeks of threats by area police, a host of urgings by the PA announcer and a National Guard-like force protecting the support beam, the goalpost came down to a throng of cheers.
The Sooners were already well into the locker room when the incident happened, but the news brought a smile to at least one player, linebacker Torrance Marshall.
"They got it? They did?" Marshall asked like a little kid when he heard the whisperings. "Good. That's what I wanted to hear. I was hoping they'd take it down."
Plenty of oranges saw air time on Saturday, too. Throughout the fourth quarter, the game had to repeatedly be stopped to pick up excess citrus that was flooding the field.
To say the least, the celebration has been a long time coming for these fans. Some OU students, so excited about the prospect of becoming No. 1, lined up as early as 6 a.m., some four hours before kickoff, to get the best general admission seats to the big game.
As the final seconds ticked down, the stadium erupted into a chant of "We're No. 1." And more oranges began to fly.
"I can't believe it, I can't believe we're going to be No. 1," an OU usher said to his coworker, embracing her tightly.
A pair of Sugar Bowl officials, walking past the front row in the game's final moments, had a fun time jabbering with the crowd about OU's chances to make it to the Orange Bowl, the site of this year's national championship game.
"Sorry guys," one fan shouted from the crowd, "But we're going to the Orange Bowl. Can't make it to New Orleans this year."
To which the one bowl rep responded, "Congratulations. It's been a long time coming for you guys."
From the conclusion of the game until well into Saturday night, car horns and tons of yelling could be heard echoing through the streets of Norman. It was a virtual orgy of college students meandering through the streets in mass celebration.
If there's anything to come from all this, it's that Sunday morning will bring quite a clean up for city officials.
Heupel, who was conducting an interview near the south goalpost after the game, was hit with a splash of pepper spray from local law enforcement looking to stop fans from tearing down the goalpost. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was also hit with the spray.
Though the incident was hardly serious, it did postpone the post game press conferences of both Stoops and Heupel, who had to wash out their eyes.
"I was sitting doing with an interview and it just hit me," Heupel said. "That stuff stings. So for the rest of the walk in, I put on my helmet."
Argument for No. 1
"I figure we're No. 1 because I see all these people running around with their fingers in the air," he said. "The right fingers."
Odds and ends
Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at ESPN.com.