|University||University of Oklahoma|
|Athletics director||Joe Castiglione|
|Football stadium||Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium|
|Basketball arena||Lloyd Noble Center|
|Baseball stadium||L. Dale Mitchell Baseball Park|
|Other arenas||Headington Tennis Center
McCasland Field House
Vierson Gymnastics Center
|Fight song||boomer sooner
color1 = Crimson
The University of Oklahoma features 17 varsity sports teams. Both men's and women's teams are called the Sooners, a nickname given to the early participants in the land rushes which initially opened the Oklahoma Indian Territory to non-native settlement. They participate in the NCAA's Division I-A, in the South Division of the Big 12 Conference. The University's current athletic director is Joe Castiglione.
In 2002, The University of Oklahoma was ranked as the 3rd best college sports program in America by Sports Illustrated. When combined with Blake Griffin's John Wooden Award and Sam Bradford's Heisman Trophy, Oklahoma became the first school to have a top winner in both basketball and football in the same year, 2009.
The University of Oklahoma was a charter member of the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWC) during its formation in 1914. Five years later, in 1919, OU left the SWC and joined the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association. In 1928, this conference split, and OU remained aligned with the teams that formed the Big Six Conference. Over the next 31 years, more schools were added and the conference underwent several name changes, incrementing the number each time up to the Big Eight Conference where it remained until 1996. Four more universities were added then and the name was changed one more time to its current form: the Big 12 Conference.
The Sooners have been participating in college football since 1895. Calling Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at Owen Field home, the team has won numerous bowl games, 41 conference championships (including every Big Seven championship awarded), and seven Associated Press National Championships, making the Sooners football program the most decorated in the Big 12. Oklahoma has scored the most points in Division I-A football history despite the fact they have played over 60 fewer games than the second place school on that list. OU also has the highest winning percentage of any team since the start of the AP poll in 1936.
The Sooners possess seven national championships in football, with the 1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, and 2000 seasons featuring the top team in the Associated Press final poll, and the 2000 Bowl Championship Series National Championship as well. This ties Alabama for the most national titles of any Division I college football team after the end of World War II (which is commonly used as the division between eras in college football).
In addition to these seven acknowledged national championships there are also nine additional years in which the NCAA's official record book recognizes the Sooners as national champions: 1949, 1953, 1957, 1967, 1973, 1978, 1980, 1986, 2003. The University of Oklahoma does not acknowledge these additional "championships", as they were not awarded by the Associated Press, United Press International (UPI), USA Today Coaches Poll, or the Bowl Championship Series (BCS).
Individual success is also a major part of Oklahoma football; five Heisman Trophy winners (Billy Vessels, Steve Owens, Billy Sims, Jason White and Sam Bradford) are surrounded by many other award winners, including Adrian Peterson, Joe Washington, Brian Bosworth, Tony Casillas, Greg Pruitt, Josh Heupel, Jerry Tubbs, Rocky Calmus, Granville Liggins, Teddy Lehman, Lee Roy Selmon, Roy Williams, Tommy McDonald, Mark Clayton, Tommie Harris, J.C. Watts, Keith Jackson and Jammal Brown. More than a dozen Sooner players have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Oklahoma has more Butkus award winners than any other school.
Legendary coaches Bennie Owen, Bud Wilkinson, and Barry Switzer have passed through the gameday tunnel for the Sooners, each on their way to the College Football Hall of Fame. Owen was the first highly successful coach at OU and was a major advocate of the forward pass, which at the turn of the century was not popular. The playing surface at Oklahoma's Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is popularly known as Owen Field in honor of his long tenure and devotion to the university. Wilkinson left many imprints on the game, such as the 5-2 defense with five linemen and two linebackers; the perfection of the Split-T, an early option offense; three national championships; and his teams set the NCAA Division 1 record for consecutive wins at 47. The record of 47 straight wins is widely regarded as one of the great achievements in sports, and a streak that is unlikely to be broken (started October 10, 1953 vs. Texas and ended in 1957 with a loss to Notre Dame 7-0). Switzer won three national championships (The National Championship of 1975 is highly controversial, Arizona State went 12-0 that season while Oklahoma was 11-1) and forged arguably the fiercest rushing offense ever, the Oklahoma wishbone formation, throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Though the end of Switzer's tenure at Oklahoma was marked by controversy and poor player behavior, he is generally well-regarded by both his past players and Sooner fans. During his 16 years as the Sooner's head coach, Switzer led his team to 12 conference championships and never lost more than two games in a row. His winning percentage of .837 stands as the fourth highest in the history of 1-A football. Other Hall of Fame coaches whose tenure included stints at the University of Oklahoma are Lawrence "Biff" Jones and Jim Tatum.
The men's basketball team is highly successful and rose to national prominence since the early 80’s with head coach Billy Tubbs and three time All-American power forward Wayman Tisdale. It currently plays in the Lloyd Noble Center, which came to be known as the house Alvan Adams built and Tisdale filled. While the team has never won a national championship, it ranks second in most tournament wins without a championship behind Illinois. The team played in the 1988 national championship game but lost to Kansas, despite having beaten the Jayhawks three times earlier in the season, including the Big 8 Championship Game in Kansas City. The program has won a combined twenty regular-season and tournament conference championships.
The Sooners headed into the 2005-06 season ranked #5 in the AP preseason poll, led by Taj Gray, Kevin Bookout, Terrell Everett, and David Godbold, but had a disappointing early season. After the emergence of Michael Neal as a potential star, the Sooners salvaged a #3 seed in the Big 12 Conference Tournament but lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
On March 29, 2006, Kelvin Sampson left the University of Oklahoma to become the head basketball coach at Indiana University. 13 days later, on April 11, 2006, Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione named Jeff Capel III the new head coach. Capel encountered trouble in his first few months as several players who had been recruited by Sampson backed out of their commitments. Also, under Sampson's watch, Oklahoma was placed under a three-year investigation by the NCAA for recruiting violations. At the end of the their investigation, the NCAA issued a report citing more than 550 illegal calls made by Sampson and his staff to 17 different recruits. The NCAA barred Sampson from recruiting off campus and making phone calls for one year, ending May 24, 2007. The Sooners looked to continue a streak of 12 consecutive postseason tournament appearances in 2006-2007, but were disappointed when they did not receive a bid for either the NCAA Tournament or the NIT.
The men's gymnastics program at OU is headed by coach Mark Williams. It has won five of the last seven NCAA Men's Gymnastics championships, winning the title in 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008 (they finished second behind Penn State in 2004 and 2007). Only Oklahoma and Penn State have won the NCAA title since 2000, with the exception of Ohio State in 2001. They won the 2006 title with very little experience on the team as 50% of the members were freshmen and just 21% were upperclassmen (seven freshmen, four sophomores, one junior, and two seniors). Teams from OU also won national championships in 1977, 1978, and 1991.
Gymnastics began at the school in 1902. The program folded in 1917 when the original coach left. The program was revived in 1965 with the new coach, Russ Porterfield having to beg students to join the squad. Within 6 years, OU had its first winning season. OU's next coach, Paul Ziert, turned the program into one of national prominence. He led OU to two national championships in 1977 and 1978. One of Ziert's athletes, Greg Buwick, would replace him as head coach in 1980 and would lead the team to its third national title in 1991. Buwick's assistant of 12 years, Mark Williams, took over the head coaching position in 2000 and has continued OU's tradition of gymnastics excellence. OU has produced more Nissen Award winners than any other university and is the only school to have back-to-back Nissen Award winners.
The Oklahoma Baseball tradition is long, proud and storied, with two National Championships in 1951 and 1994, along with numerous All-Americans. Their home field is L. Dale Mitchell Baseball Park, named after famed player Dale Mitchell. The current coach is Sunny Golloway. The baseball program was a source of recent controversy when the head coach, Larry Cochell, resigned after making racially insensitive remarks about one of the players on the team.
During the 2005-2006 season, the Sooners were given a home regional at L. Dale Mitchell Park and were named the #1 seed. They beat the University of Houston, Texas Christian University, and Wichita State University to win the regional and advanced to a Super Regional where they were defeated by Rice University in a best-of-three series. Oregon State University went on to win the College World Series that year.
Prior to 2006, the Sooners hosted regionals at minor league parks in Oklahoma City, first All Sports Stadium and then AT&T Bricktown Ballpark. Scheduling conflicts with the Oklahoma Redhawks, the Class AAA affiliate of the Texas Rangers, led OU to bid for future regionals at its on-campus stadium.
OU Women's Basketball began during the 1974-75 academic year. It wasn't until 1996 when OU hired local high school basketball coach, Sherri Coale, that the team became something Sooners would be proud of. At one time the team drew an average of 65 people per game, now the Sooner are one of the nation's leaders in attendance. In 2002, Oklahoma advanced to the National Title game before losing to the Connecticut Huskies.
The wrestling program is the fourth most decorated in college wrestling, having won seven national championships in 1936, 1951, 1952, 1957, 1960, 1963 and 1974. They are led by their coach, Jack Spates. The Sooners are considered a power in their own right and Bedlam matches draw an enormous crowd.
On May 10, 2007 the University announced the addition of women's rowing to the intercollegiate athletics program started by well respected rower Candie Garrett. A rowing facility will be built on the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City and is expected to be completed in 2009. The addition of the program was made possible by large donations from Aubrey McClendon and Clayton Bennett. A coach and staff will be hired during the 2007/08 academic year with recruitment beginning after that. This is the first sport added since women's soccer was added in 1996.
The University of Texas is considered the primary rival of the Sooners. Inverted versions of the Longhorn mascot can be seen on automobiles all over the Norman campus, and many T-shirts referring to the rivalry present the word "Texas" in mirror image, upside-down, or possibly surrounded by obscenities. A reminder of the rivalry shared by these two schools was painted on the South Oval of the OU campus for many years, and was recently replicated near the Library clock tower due to construction at its original site.
A traditional college football rivalry with the University of Nebraska has been less intense over the past several years (although recent off-the-field incidents have heightened the animosity between the two programs and their respective fanbases). This is mainly due to the split-division nature of the Big 12 that now only allows the teams to play each other twice every four years. Prior to this, these teams were involved in several historic match-ups, including the Game of the Century and the so-called Game of the New Century where the teams have come in to the game ranked one and two in the Associated Press Poll, making the games of great importance in deciding the national championship. Historically, the rivalry's most distinguishing quality has been the grudging respect and appreciation between the two tradition-rich programs. Also of note is the game's former status as the premier Thanksgiving Day game for the middle of the country. The Sooners and Cornhuskers went head-to-head in the 2006 Big 12 Championship Game, with Oklahoma winning the conference title by the score of 21–7.
Oklahoma's other rivalry is with an intrastate team, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and is often referred to as the "Bedlam Series." It is normally played as a home-and-home series with games alternating between Norman and Stillwater, with the exception of the baseball teams, who often play at AT&T Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City or Drillers Stadium in Tulsa.
The "fight song" of the University of Oklahoma is "Boomer Sooner", a version of "Boola Boola", the fight song of Yale University. "Boomer Sooner" was written by Arthur M. Alden in 1905. Other songs played at athletic events by The Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band are a version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!", "OK Oklahoma", played after extra points, and the "OU Chant." At home games, The Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band plays that visiting team's "fight song" while facing their fans.
The Mascot present at all football games is the Sooner Schooner, a Conestoga wagon, pulled by two crème white ponies, Boomer and Sooner. The caretakers of the wagon are the spirit group called the RUF/NEKS, who shoot off modified shotguns in celebration of scores by the home team. The group was launched in 1915 when an elderly female spectator at an OU-Oklahoma A&M basketball game chided the group for raising hell ("Sit down and be quiet, you roughnecks!")
Recently, in time for the 2005 football season, two new mascots, based on the ponies who pull the Schooner, were created, named appropriately, Boomer and Sooner. They are costumes of two identical (except for eye color) crème white ponies. Before, the Boomer and Sooner costume mascots, OU was also represented by Top Dawg. Top Dawg did some appearances at football games, but was primarily used at wrestling and basketball events.
The official school colors are Crimson and Cream, with red and white sometimes used as substitutes for simplicity. The school logo is an interlocking OU design and was first used on football helmets in 1967.