Oklahoma Football has been blessed with some legendary head coaches, seven Heisman winners, 48 conference championships — the most among Football Bowl subdivision teams — and more than its fair share of All-Americans.
All of this has helped the Sooners win seven national championships, the third most in the Associated Press/Coaches poll’s era. There’s no question that the Oklahoma football brand is one of the most successful in college football history, one of the sport’s historic blue bloods.
When he became the Sooners head coach in 1973, Barry Swiss famously said:
“I didn’t create the monster, it was George Cross (former President of the University of Oklahoma) and Bud Wilkinson. My job is to feed the monster.”
And that’s what Switzer, Bob Stops, Lincoln Riley and others have since done so.
More than 70 percent of Oklahoma’s 928 all-time wins have come since the Wilkinson era of OU football (1947-1963). And you can bet the Sooner fan base has widened and is proud of all the success and national prominence.
New head coach Brent Venables knows how important the Oklahoma fan base is to the success of the OU football program. He experienced it as an assistant during his previous coaching stint at Norman, and it was one of the first things he brought up as he stepped off the plane at Norman Airport after being named the Sooners’ 23rd head coach.
“They make this place so special,” Venables said. “Be yourself. People have no idea the love and appreciation you will have for your team in this state. we separate
“This is one of the richest and most storied programs in college football history. There are many good football teams out there, but there is only one OU.”
The attendance at football games in Oklahoma has been phenomenal over the past two decades. Since the Stoops’ inaugural season in 1999, the Sooners have lost just 11 times in 140 games at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium since the start of the 1999 season. In addition, the stadium was sold out with over 80,000 spectators for all 140 home games.
You have to think those capacity home crowds had a lot to do with the Sooners’ .921 home win ratio over the past 23 seasons. Since the 2000 national championship season, Oklahoma has won more Big 12 championships (14) than it has lost at home (11).
Venables urged Sooner fans to drum up fan visits for this year’s red-and-white spring game, which extended beyond the annual spring crimmage that traditionally concludes the spring training season.
“I know what the expectations are at this stadium,” the new OU head coach said, pointing to the Palace on the Prairie during a spring training press conference. “That’s why my expectations of the fans and the administration are no different than my expectations of the players and coaches.
“Everyone has a role, everything we do in this program is important,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter what the temperature is, what time it is, where the sun is during the day. (whether) we are at home or away, (or) what uniforms we wear. None of that matters. How we appear is important.
“If you wish to speak of this program as one of the most storied and distinguished programs in college football history, show up (at every game) with some pride.”
Past fans might not have needed that encouragement to continue showing up in large numbers and showing their deep-seated passion and pride for Oklahoma Football, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them and underscore their importance in the program’s success.
History has shown this many times. Boomers earlier!