At Monday's media luncheon with Oklahoma State, I caught up with Tuttle native and OSU defensive end Cooper Bassett. Bassett grew up an Oklahoma State fan, and is one of the few players on the roster who have actually played a game in Norman.
I asked him a few questions about the game, the rivalry, and his memories for multiple reason. I was skeptical that this rivalry was strictly between the fans only, but Bassett turned me into a believer.
What do I know now? Not only do these two fan bases hate each other, but these two teams hate each other.
I grew up in Texas watching A&M and UT go at it, and didn't fully understand what Bedlam was until I got up here. Since then, I've figured it out, but for someone like me, how do you explain the meaning of Bedlam? A lot don't understand you're either crimson or orange, and there's no in between.
Bassett: I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma, and I bled orange. Everyone was so excited as a little kid, I remember being either pumped or dreading the next Monday at school because you're so excited if your team wins and you're wearing everything orange to school. You're going to rub it in all of your Oklahoma friends' faces if you win. If the Gooners beat you, you're dreading going to school because you're going to get it the whole time. It's really like that though. I had people coming up to me after the game last year telling me that their fifty and sixty year-old grandparents cried after the game because it meant so much to them. Not just that we beat OU, but to win the Big 12 Championship. That unfolded in the perfect scenario for us, but it's a huge game even without that. We have a rivalry with Tulsa, but the one with OU is huge. Anyone that wants to say it isn't is lying to themselves.
This game has gotten even bigger the last couple of years. When you look around college football history, it was always Michigan and Ohio State in the Big 10, and Florida and Tennessee in the SEC. Well, lately it's been Oklahoma State and Oklahoma for the Big 12 in that same type of scenario with the championship riding on the line. Do you feel that extra pressure?
Bassett: When you're growing up you pretend it's the fourth quarter with a few seconds left and the ball in your hands, or it's the bottom of the 9th with two outs and the bases loaded. Everyone has those scenarios. Like you said, the Big 12 Championship has come down to us at the end of the year, and that's how you play. You want games like that, that everyone remembers. You want to be a part of them. I know we haven't gotten the notoriety of those other series, and part of that is because we're little Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, but it's just as heated and there's as much hatred in this rivalry as those. Ask the people in Stillwater and Norman, it means just as much to them as it does anywhere else in the country.
A lot was made this past week about Texas Tech having a chip on their shoulder after you guys blew them out last season, and them not wanting it to happen again this year. In last season's Bedlam game, you guys ran through the Sooners and the crowd rushed the field. Texas Tech was just another conference game, but in Bedlam that's huge. Do you expect them to have a chip on their shoulder after having to experience that in Boone Pickens Stadium?
Bassett: This is a rivalry game, so everything is open. Statistics don't matter, what happened last year or last week doesn't matter, it's a rivalry game. You don't need motivation. OU doesn't need motivation to beat us, we don't need it to beat them. All year long, you hear all your buddies that are OU fans say they're going to kick our butts this year. I'm sure they have OSU friends that reminded them of how we took it to them last year. I'm sure that plays into effect a little bit, but at the end of the day we're OSU and we hate them, and they're OU and they hate us. There's no need for extra motivation because it's Bedlam.
You're one of the handful of guys on this roster that have been to Norman for a game. What's that stadium like when you guys come to town?
Bassett: You go into the stadium and there are a ton of people. You're gonna to get dog-cussed when you walk in, you're going to have people yelling at you and telling you how bad you are. They're going to continue it throughout the game. You'll have that little section of orange, but for the most part that whole stadium is against you. That's why you love playing road games, because it's a little bit of extra fuel to your fire. That's a beautiful stadium, they fill it up and they have tons of people there who are dedicated fans. It's a great environment and I get jacked up to play in it.
Obviously last year was great, but you said you grew up bleeding orange. Do you have a favorite Bedlam memory other than last season's win?
Bassett: I'm going to remember everything from last year. I was on the field when Jamie Blatnick picked up that fumble and almost returned it for a touchdown. I was running after him as fast as I could and I thought he got in but I guess he didn't. But as a fan, my favorite was in 2001. I was driving to a Tuttle High School playoff game but I was listening to it on the radio. I heard the announcer scream that we just threw a touchdown to go up 16-13. You heard the stadium crowd noise in the background, and it just went silent. That's something I'll never ever forget.