Hopes for an eighth national title are dashed.
BY JASON COLLINGTON World Staff Writer
Friday, January 09, 2009
1/09/09 at 3:00 AM
MIAMI, Fla. — He really wanted to etch "2008" into his arm so it would be there forever.
But instead, Chris Holland stood outside the stadium after the loss and showed off his right shoulder, where he has tattooed the OU logo and all seven years the Sooners came home with a national championship.
"I really thought we were going to win," the 1987 OU graduate said. "I mean, I really wanted to get that year tattooed. Look at me. I'm not messing around here."
For the third time, Rick Burke of Claremore watched firsthand as the Sooners lost a national title.
"This was a home game — not to take anything away from Florida — but I don't like it," he said, standing next to dozens of Florida fans. "But I will say this: We were better prepared. We played hard. That didn't happen before. I can live with this."
So can Jeff Nickerson, who stared as Florida players raised the crystal ball in the center of the field.
"I'm not too crushed because it was close," said the Sooners fan who grew up in Florida. "Bob Stoops gets us here all the time, so I can't fault him."
Before the game, so many fans used the same word — redemption. They were hungry for it after so many disappointments on the field and so much criticism from national media, ESPN being the biggest complaint.
"The Big 12 is the best conference in the country, but with ESPN you wouldn't know that," said Tracey Spear, who traveled to the game from Norman.
Others mentioned that a win not only would have helped the legend that is OU football, but also lift the spirits of many Oklahomans.
"With everything going on in the world, the economy being so bad, we needed a win," said Bill Freeman, who lives outside Orlando but was raised in Sand Springs. "I think a win would have helped people to not think about their problems, even if it's for a few hours. Sports can do that. Really, we want to do what the players are doing. We wish we could. We don't say it like that, but what they do is important for so many of us."
Before the game, there was no sign of an economic recession. Demand for tickets was high while the supply was not. One OU fan needing a ticket yelled to the crowd outside the stadium: "Does anyone want my $500 or not?" No one with tickets took the bait.
The scalpers made up for any losses on the year with this game. Upper-deck tickets, with a face value of $175, went for as much as $800. One exchange, right before the OU players arrived at the stadium, was a ticket for $1,500. "I can't tell you my name," the buyer said, "because I have a wife and she would kill me if she knew what just happened."
No Sooners game would be complete without mention of Texas. Kaylee King, a 20-year-old Sooners fan from Mustang, traveled 24 hours in the family motor home to deliver a message to audiences around the world seeing the game at home. Her poster read, "How's the weather in Texas?"
Melody McKitrick has had to take the long road home after national championship losses before.
"It's no fun at all," said McKitrick, who was a member of the Pride of Oklahoma marching band in the 1970s. "You don't want to go home. You don't want to do anything. That feeling just doesn't go away."
But for every word of disappointment, the fans said they looked forward to next year.
"This team had a lot of things the other BCS teams didn't," said Kevin O'Brian, a Sooners fan from Tulsa. "There were no silver shoes on this team. They had a better attitude. More leadership in the no huddle, if you will."
O'Brian, who builds houses and sells real estate in Tulsa, said he hoped a win would curb talk about the rest of the real world for a while.
He had one more hope, too.
"Maybe all these OU fans will recognize we have the best coaches in the country. They will quit wanting to fire them after a loss. Oh, and maybe Sam Bradford will stay another year. Maybe not."
Jason Collington 581-8464
With just two minutes left in the game and the score 24-14, OU students Claire Brandon and Kira Moss show their disappointment as a Florida fan cheers behind them in the fourth quarter of the BCS National Championship game in Miami, Fla. MICHAEL WYKE/ Tulsa World