NORMAN — The Sooner Schooner, an iconic symbol of Oklahoma football, was in an on-field accident Saturday during the game against West Virginia.
The Sooner Schooner is maintained by members of the RUF/NEKS, a spirit organization. It is pulled by two white ponies and traditionally celebrates OU touchdowns with a quick loop on the field.
While doing a 180-degree turn to return to Memorial Stadium’s northeast tunnel, the Sooner Schooner tipped over and threw the male driver and female rider from the front seat. A camera person was inside the Sooner Schooner.
The wagon detached from the axles following the crash. Several cheerleaders and support staff rushed to the field to check on everyone’s status immediately after the second-quarter incident. The female rider was helped off the field.
The game was delayed a few minutes while personnel fixed divots created by the Sooner Schooner’s wheels.
OU released a statement regarding the incident.
“The Sooner Schooner tipped over today. We believe it was the result of weight distribution among riders in the rear of the wagon. Three individuals were evaluated at the stadium and released. All others reported that they were uninjured.
“Upon initial evaluation, it also appears the ponies are uninjured. Medical staff responded immediately, as did the expert horse handlers and veterinarian who staff all games. We are grateful that the injuries were not serious and for the staff members who responded so well.”
Coach Lincoln Riley said it was a scary moment.
“I was nervous and scared for the people in it. Relieved when I saw everybody get up,” Riley said. “And then our crowd proceeded to go wild, which was kind of cool, too. I was glad that everybody was OK.”
During a 1993 Sooners home loss to Colorado, there was a Schooner accident that bore a strong resemblance to Saturday’s crash. A RUF/NEK member sustained a leg injury and the artificial turf was gashed open.
The most famous Schooner incident occurred on Jan. 1, 1985, during OU’s Orange Bowl loss to Washington. A Sooners field goal attempt sailed through the uprights, but the score was nullified by a penalty. The Sooner Schooner operators apparently were unaware of the penalty flag and drove the wagon onto the wet Orange Bowl grass.
Because the Sooner Schooner got stuck in the muck of a soggy field, OU was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct. An Orlando, Florida, newspaper headline described it as having been “unhorsemanlike conduct.”