Berry: Hey OSU, good luck forgetting the final Bedlam game

Berry: Hey OSU, good luck forgetting the final Bedlam game

Berry Tramel: Are you sure you want to wash your hands of Bedlam? Who could possibly come away from that game last Saturday saying, good riddance?

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Nov 10, 2023, 9:00am CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Nov 10, 2023, 9:00am CST

ORLANDO, Florida – The Southwest flight from Oklahoma City to Orlando included a bunch of women, I’d guess ages 35-45, wearing Mickey Ears and acting a little giddy. I don’t mean Mantle and I don’t mean Josh. The women weren’t headed to the beach, if you know what I mean.

The plane stopped over in St. Louis, and on to the jet marched another batch of women, maybe 15 of 20 of them, all wearing matching Disney shirts.

In Orlando, the airport train system included an audio welcome from Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer, who proudly reminded us that we were part of the 70 million annual visitors to America’s playground.

Those 70 million people a year include a bunch of repeat customers.

We all know people who are Disney-infatuated and can’t get enough of the Orlando theme parks. People who came to this tourist mecca, found it to be a blast and began hatching plans to return as soon as possible.

Sort of the opposite of Oklahoma State football. A variety of OSU people say the rousing Bedlam victory last Saturday was their favorite victory ever. I’m not arguing. I can see why.

I just don’t understand the mindset of experiencing what the Cowboys experienced in Boone Pickens Stadium — high tension, high drama, exhilarating victory, celebration that made Mardi Gras Cajuns seem like a bunch of monks — and declaring, this was so much fun, let’s never do this again. Let’s never again put on the Mickey Ears.

The first day of the rest of OSU football’s life begins Saturday in FBC Mortgage Stadium, which once was known as the Bounce House, the home of Central Florida football. I doubt it ever bounced like Boone Pickens last Saturday, but that’s beside the point.

The 15th-ranked Cowboys play UCF this Saturday for the very first time.

Mike Gundy’s avowed mission is to “move forward.” He was downright dizzy last Saturday in the Bedlam postgame. By Monday, though, Gundy was deflecting Bedlam questions. Move forward. Focus on UCF.

Can’t blame him. There’s lots in front of these remarkable Cowboys, who in September were mounting a campaign to be the Big 12’s worst team. Here in November, the Cowboys have staked claim on being the Big 12’s best team.

But getting his troops to forget Bedlam is quite the psychological task. Bedlam moves the mental needle for us all. UCF does not.

 

Bedlam was 64 years old when UCF opened its doors in 1968.

Bedlam was 75 years old when UCF fielded its first varsity football team, 1979.

Bedlam was 92 years old when the Knights joined NCAA Division I-A, in 1996.

Bedlam was 113 years old when UCF went unbeaten in 2017 and declared itself the national championship.

And Bedlam is dead when UCF and OSU meet Saturday on a gridiron for the first time.

The Cowboys no longer have an arch-rival, and it’s not an out-on-the-limb prediction to suggest that the void will not be filled by Gus Malzahn’s Knights.

“Playing somebody that you’ve never played before is always different, but we’re going to treat it like any other game,” said OSU defensive end Kody Walterscheid.

That’s sound strategy, because it is like any other game, or soon will be. It’s sort of novel to end an ancient series one week and start a new series the next.

The Cowboys soon enough will be playing strangers quite often.

I mean, the Big 12 shouted it from the mountaintop last week that OSU will be rival-less starting in 2024. For scheduling purposes, the league protected four rivalries: Utah-Brigham Young, Arizona State-Arizona, Kansas State-Kansas and Baylor-Texas Christian.

OSU was not included and had no beef. The Cowboys had no card to play. Texas Tech? Iowa State?

By 2024, the Cowboys will be in a 16-team league that includes just five schools who were their opponents in 2011.

OSU will have to manufacture its own passion, most weeks in the Big 12.

I know Bedlam was a rough haul for Cowboy fans. Especially the 20th century. But Bedlam grew up in the last 2000s, and while the Cowboys are just 6-18 in Bedlam this century, the victories were sweeter than ever and most of the defeats were the stuff of pride.

The nation was educated on OSU football through Bedlam, and the impression was quite positive.

Try replacing that kind of PR with Central Florida (no offense, Knights). Try replicating the euphoria of last Saturday night with a win over Arizona.

The Cowboys are using the excuse of the scheduling model to let Bedlam die, but the current scheduling model is no guarantee. Heck, this very September, OSU was horse-whipped by South Alabama. 

We don’t need Mike Gundy to remind us that the demise of Bedlam is OU’s fault, although he’s willing to do it anyway upon demand.

But now that we’ve got almost a week of clarity since Boone Pickens Stadium’s east goal posts were tossed into Theta Pond, a question bears asking.

Are you sure you want to wash your hands of Bedlam?

Who could possibly come away from that game last Saturday saying, good riddance?

Oh, probably the Sooners. When the move to the Southeastern Conference broke 2½ years ago, the Joes, president Harroz and athletic director Castiglione, publicly threw their support behind continuing Bedlam. But that was a clear and brilliant public relations move.

In truth, I don’t think OU wants Bedlam any more than does Gundy.

The Sooners would like Bedlam in the rearview mirror. The SEC will shine a bright light on the Sooners, so why would they want to share it with OSU?

OU has an arch-rival in Texas. The Sooners have their rallying-cry game. OSU is like Arkansas was when it left the Southwest Conference. Like Nebraska was when it left the Big 12. Aligned with a bunch of cool teams, but void of the passion and hate that fuel rivalries.

And even the most ardent of the anti-Bedlam faction of OSU will admit, deep in their hearts, that the Cowboys need the Sooners. OU is the great white whale. The lost ark of the covenant.

Lots of heartache. Lots of treachery. But man, what fun and what joy when the scoreboard turns your way.

Oh well. Enough beating the drum for Bedlam. The Cowboys, no doubt headed for an emotional crash in the Magic Kingdom, will have to beat UCF on guile and skill and technique. Some good game-planning will help, too.

“One of the reasons I’m really pushing moving forward … whether you have a great win or you have a tough loss, you always have to move forward,” Gundy said “That’s why I am moving forward, because otherwise, this won’t move forward. It’s too big of a situation in the state of Oklahoma to just go away in one or two days, so that’s why we as a staff have done that.”

He told his staff, no more Bedlam talk. No more glorying in a great play. No more funny stories about post-game celebrations. No more tales from Theta Pond.

“I don’t want to hear about it anymore,” Gundy said.

Except he’s going to hear about it the rest of his life. That’s the problem.

Bedlam 2023 will stay prominent in boardrooms and backrooms and coaches offices as long as the series stays dormant.

It’s a treasured memory, no doubt, but it’s also like home movies. It’s the next best thing to being there.

Someone put on their Mickey Ears and get Bedlam going again.

Share with your crowd
Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder bench watch the final minute of their game against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder fans cheer as their team scores against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Thunder-Mavericks: Why these playoffs might spawn a new OKC rival

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket beside Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    OKC fans chanted ‘Luka sucks,’ but Doncic’s play said otherwise

  • Tailgating on The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Ms., on Saturday September 15, 2018.

Pre309

    OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming

The latest from Sellout Crowd

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; The Oklahoma City Thunder bench watch the final minute of their game against the Dallas Mavericks during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Does OKC need more Aaron Wiggins?

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder fans cheer as their team scores against the Dallas Mavericks during the second quarter of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    Thunder-Mavericks: Why these playoffs might spawn a new OKC rival

  • May 9, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket beside Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) during the second half of game two of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Paycom Center. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

    OKC fans chanted ‘Luka sucks,’ but Doncic’s play said otherwise

  • Tailgating on The Grove on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Ms., on Saturday September 15, 2018.

Pre309

    OU’s move to the SEC: Listing the things to look foward to

  • Ireland travelblog: Farewell to the Emerald Isle, which keep Americans coming