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Why I’ll Miss Bedlam

A tale of paper helmets, glory and heartbreak.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Back when I was an elementary school student in Hinton, USA they would do a Bedlam blood drive thing every year — it, I think, is my earliest memory of the rivalry.

They weren’t harvesting blood from elementary school kids (that seems illegal). Instead, you paid a quarter and got to pick whether you wanted to put a paper OSU helmet on the wall or a paper OU helmet. As is the case in most places in the state, the OSU supporters were outnumbered, but we’d skip trips to the pop machines and use all of our quarters to fill the OSU side up.

I was born in 1995, so I was too young to truly appreciate OSU’s wins in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2002. I remember one year, though, in what must’ve been either 2003 or 2005, when I was at the First United Methodist Church in Hinton where my mother was the choir director and someone told me the Pokes got thumped. OSU lost 52-9 in 2003 and 42-14 in 2005.

That would be on par for much of my childhood.

One would think, given the history, that I’d be ready for this series to come to an end. But I’m not. It pains me that kids in Oklahoma will grow up without having this game. It’s the Super Bowl of Oklahoma. What happens to the paper helmets on the walls? What happens to the ups that make all those downs that much sweeter?

The first Bedlam win for OSU where I was a full functioning human being came in 2011. I was 16. It was a slaughter on the field, releasing eight years of torment for OSU fans.

That high was quickly followed by two of the most painful losses of my childhood in 2012 and 2013. The 2012 game might’ve technically been closer (a 51-48 overtime OU win in Norman), but I remember the 2013 ending clear as day.

I was a senior in high school watching the game alone in my bedroom because the Cowboys would play better when I was in there than they would when I was in the living room. I was sitting on my bed and bounced to my feet when Justin Gilbert seemingly intercepted that pass in the final minute. When the ball hit the ground, I crashed back down. OU scored, won the game, and I stared at my ceiling for what had to have been at least 30 minutes.

Fast forward a year, and I was at my first Bedlam. A trombone player in the Cowboy Marching Band, I was in the end zone that Tyreek Hill ran into. The 19-year-old Marshall was happy, but he was perhaps more happy for the 11-year-old or the 18-year old Marshall who knew nearly nothing more than Bedlam heartbreak.

In the grand scheme of OSU football, 2014 wasn’t the greatest year to be in the Cowboy Marching Band, but that made all of those bus rides around Big 12 country worth it and then some.

It saddens me that there will be kids who go through grade school and don’t have this game to experience the anticipation, the glory and even the heartbreak.

And I understand why all of this is happening (mainly money).

I understand why OU is going to the SEC. I understand why OSU would feel some type of way about the Sooners not including OSU in their plans. I understand that nonconference games are scheduled a ridiculously long way out. I even understand why some OSU fans are ready to see the rivalry die and see what the Cowboys can do outside of OU’s shadow. I’m not saying anyone is wrong or right.

But in five years when I look back, I’m going to miss something so great that we had.

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