On Thursday, The Oklahoman’s Ryan Aber and the American-Statesman’s Brian Davis participated in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) ahead of Saturday’s Red River Shootout … er, Rivalry … er, Showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
Here’s a look at some of the best questions and answers from the hour-long conversation. For the entire AMA, head to Reddit.
Shootout, Showdown or Rivalry?
Ryan: I think after Brian and I (and quite a few other folks) teamed up for a weeklong radio project a couple years ago that was dubbed Red River Rivalry Radio, I think we’re contractually obligated to say that, right? I do like alliteration, but I grew up with Shootout, and still my natural inclination is to say Shootout.
Brian: Shootout. Always and forever Shootout.
AT&T wants the schools (and by extension, us) to call it Showdown to remove the gun connotation.
What was the greatest game ever played in the OU vs Texas rivalry?
Ryan: I’ve got to go with 1984. Ambience? Check. Not that this game ever lacks this but this one definitely had an even bigger dose with a constant rain throughout. Good teams? Check. Texas came in ranked No. 1 and the Sooners No. 3. A comeback? Check. The Longhorns led 10-0 at halftime before the Sooners scored 15 third-quarter points to take the lead. Late-game drama? Check. The Sooners led 15-12 in the final minutes with Texas driving. Controversy? Check. OU’s Keith Stanberry appeared to intercept Texas’ Todd Dodge , but it was ruled Stanberry was out of bounds. The Longhorns’ Jeff Ward kicked a field goal on the next and final play to send the game to an unsatisfying 15-15 tie. It was the second tough break the Sooners got during the closing minutes. Texas’ Jerome Johnson appeared to lose a fumble with two minutes left but he was ruled down. Of course, it’s one that still ticks Barry Switzer off to this day. But there have been so many great games and great moments in this series, it’s so hard to limit it. Speaking of those, it’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the Superman play.
Brian: Well, we’re all guilty of recency bias, for sure. How can one judge the games played in the 1960s vs. the 2000s, for example. It’s all about time and perspective. Earlier this week, I interviewed Peter Gardere. He’ll tell you the best games were Texas’ four wins from 1989-92. Johnny Walker, the Cash brothers, Bubba Jacques, Lovell Pinkney, Mike Adams on and on.
I think more about decisions and plays more than I do games. Like, I think about Mack’s decision not to play Cedric Benson until after the OU game. I think of Superman or Dan Cody in the spinner formation. I think of Adrian Peterson and Case McCoy. Somebody’s walking out of the Cotton Bowl this Saturday having achieved legendary status with their fan base, that’s for sure.
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In your opinions, what’s the best fried food item offered at the State Fair of Texas this year?
Ryan: Well, the answer to your question is the Fletcher’s Corny Dog. It’s a classic for a reason. But there’s plenty of others that stand out. I tried the fried butter a few years ago and was surprised how much I liked it even though my arteries didn’t (think a buttered roll with the ratio of bread to butter flipped). I also like to try new foods out there and of the new fried ones available this season, the Deep Fried PB & Razbrulee one definitely intrigues me. Even at 44, I still love a good PB&J, and mixing that with crème brulee sounds incredible — and dangerous.
Brian: Fletcher’s Corny Dogs, for sure. I’ve had the fried Oreos, which are awesome. For some reason, I’ve had funnel cakes the last two years. Seriously, my post-game ritual is two corny dogs and a beer. Been doing that for years and years.
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What’s the status of the Heisman statues for Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray? And can you confirm if they will in fact be Baker planting a flag and Kyler doing the Bo Jackson baseball pose, as we all would hope and expect?
Ryan: Mayfield’s statue is ready, it’s just a matter of when they want to debut it. Originally, it was going to go up at the 2020 spring game. That didn’t happen and this year, they decided to hold off on that. In both cases, the biggest piece is going to be when they can get those players back on campus. So if a Cleveland Browns or Arizona Cardinals bye week lines up with a Sooners home game — and Mayfield or Murray commit to coming back — that could be the time to debut those. They’d rather not set it for a spring game, but if the logistics of it don’t work any other way, they could go back to that idea. I’d love it if the statues went the way you suggest, especially the Murray one. Bo Jackson was one of my favorites growing up, and I have one autographed piece of memorabilia in my living room and it’s a Bo Jackson signed football. The post you mentioned is iconic for sure, though I also dig this one.
Next year, there will be at least one more statue around the stadium though as the one to honor the Selmon brothers is expected to be dedicated during the 2022 season.
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Who do you feel the Sooners are most excited to play regularly in the SEC? I’ve always felt that Arkansas and Oklahoma have a ton of potential for a rivalry since our fanbases have a decent amount of crossover area wise, along with ties like Barry Switzer between the two schools.
Ryan: I mean, it’d have to be Alabama, right? The Sooners certainly see themselves as being on the level of the Crimson Tide (even if Bama’s criteria for claiming a national championship is a bit different), and adding that game to the regular rotation will be intriguing. But there are plenty of matchups that are intriguing. I’m really looking forward to the Arkansas series for the reasons you mentioned. Having worked and lived in Arkansas for a time, and covered the Razorbacks, there’s not only a lot of crossover but a lot of similarities between the fan bases. It’ll be interesting to see how that rivalry develops, especially considering their shared feelings for the Longhorns. Plus, it’ll be a reason for me to get back to one of my favorite places, and possibly enjoy Dickson Street a little bit. It’s crazy to think that for as close as they are, OU and Arkansas haven’t played a regular-season game in nearly a century.
Are you playing mind games by not ranking Texas this week?
Ryan: Wish I could say that it was something like that, but it isn’t. I considered Texas for one of the last few spots and probably looking back at it, should’ve put them in place of Clemson if nothing else. If they win this weekend, they’ll definitely be in, and though I don’t figure to move them in with a loss, even if they do lose close, I’ll keep them among the group of teams I’ll closely consider over the next few weeks.
Do you think both Oklahoma teams will be undefeated going into Bedlam?
Ryan: I doubt it. It’ll be hard enough for one of them to be, much less both, but what a matchup that would be, wouldn’t it? Add a meeting of undefeateds with the animosity that already exists in this rivalry, plus the heavier dose this year with OU’s pending move to the SEC? It’d be a madhouse in Stillwater. There’s gotta be a word to describe that, right? Then they’d do it all again shortly thereafter in the Big 12 Championship Game. That’d be a fun couple of weeks in this state and for us in the paper, no doubt.
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How did Texas end up starting Hudson Card? Seems like Casey Thompson has been the clear answer at QB.
Brian: Well, um, you see, what happened was… heck, I don’t know that we’ll ever get a true answer from Sarkisian about why he chose Card over Thompson. Both were thought to be neck and neck in the preseason practice derby. Maybe he chose Card thinking it was a long-term recruiting play; you know, impress the Lake Travis/Central Texas folks. But give Sark credit. When he saw that Thompson had two TD drives against Arkansas, he made the switch and never looked back.
After the loss at Arkansas, it looked like Texas was in for a tough ride this first season under Sark; how do you view the progress over the three games since?
Brian: I asked Sark specifically today about the momentum Texas has been building since leaving Fayetteville. Does he think the Horns are making incremental progress, have momentum and now moving forward. “I appreciate you guys continually asking me about the Arkansas game because it keeps a bad taste in my mouth and our player’s mouths. Thank you,” Sark said.
Now, was he giving me the business? Probably. Was he being serious? Probably. Both can be true. But as fellow Statesman writer Danny Davis pointed out to me, Tom Herman heard about Maryland for years. YEARS. If Sarkisian beats Oklahoma, nobody will be talking about Arkansas anymore. At least not next week.
Do the Horns actually have a shot in this one?
Ryan: Absolutely. For one, the last eight meetings have all been decided by 12 points or fewer, and only one of those was more than a one-possession game. Texas has the athletes to compete with OU and any team with a player as dynamic as Bijan Robinson has a chance. It’s always a fun one no matter where the teams are ranked coming in or how they’re playing and this year won’t be any different.