I was eight years old back in 1994. That's when I really started getting into football. One day, (I presume it was in September) dad asked me if I wanted to go to grandma and grandpa's house to watch OU. I said "Sure! Who are they playing?" Dad replied Syracuse. I started to make fun of them, and he got on to me. That was just dad. When he took me to my first OU game the following year, he told me not to boo the opposing team (SMU) when they rushed out onto the field, but to applaud them. The Syracuse game was the first one I had watched all the way through, and it was won on a field goal. From then on I was hooked, and it has turned into a life long obsession. There are only a few games from 94 that I clearly remember, Cuse, Tex A&M, Texas, and the Copper Bowl against BYU, All of which except Syracuse, we lost. That was the last bowl season that OU enjoyed until Bob Stoops was hired in Dec. 1998. A mediocre 5-5-1 95 year was followed by the worst three year stretch in OU football history, but that did not prevent me from becoming a die hard, who actually cared more about football then than I do now. OU was not often televised during these three years, so I listened to Bob Barry call the games, and I listened to every dismal minute of it. From 1996 through 1998, OU went a combined 12-22, including two losses to Texas, and Oklahoma State each. we struggled to beat teams like TCU, and Tulsa, and John Blake, the head coach started Brandon Daniels at QB instead of the much much better Patrick Fletcher. Running back De'mond Parker was my hero. He rushed for 1000+ in each of his three seasons before leaving for the NFL. His first breakout game was OU-Texas in 1996, when we beat UT, the eventual Big 12 Champions 30-27 in overtime. That is still my favorite OU-Texas game ever. It was one of only TWO, yes TWO wins against Texas during the 90s. We went 2-7-1 against them from 1990-1999. Toward the end of the Blake era, Me and my brother decided to write Blake a letter supporting him, and we sent him a few plays that we were sure would help him beat Texas A&M. He sent us a letter back, thanking us for our nice letter and the plays To this day, we both swear he used one of them though I'm sure he already had a similar play in the playbook. It didn't help the cause though, we lost 29-0. The athletic department and the rest of the fans had had enough. Blake was fired immediately following the season. There were several candidates on the wish list. For the life of me, I can't remember who all the candidates were, but one of them was Florida's Defensive coordinator, and he was at the top of every one's list. The day after they hired the young coordinator, the headline on the front page of "The Oklahoman" was, "Stoops takes the reins" I was beside myself with excitement, as were all Sooner fans. I went to the Baylor game that year, and even though it was Baylor, I could tell something was dramatically different from the OU I was used to seeing. Bob Stoops brought in Mike Leach who installed the spread offense, which produced the 2000 Heisman trophy runner up, and the first national championship in 15 years. Ah, 2000! What a year that was! In 98, I could only dream of seeing OU win a national championship, and listen to dad reminisce about the good old days of the 70s and 80s when we won three national championships, and OU-Nebraska was the biggest game of the year. I would listen in amazement at his recounts of Joe Washington, Greg Pruitt, Marcus Dupree, Billy Sims, The Selmon brothers, and The Boz. Now, I was actually witnessing with my own eyes the return to greatness that had lived only in my head just two years earlier! The night that OU beat Florida State was happiest night of my life up to that point. We have gone through some disappointments over the last few years, but I am always quick to point out where we have come from. Bob Stoops may have lost his big game edge, but we are lucky to have one of the best coaches in the country right here in Norman. I get tired of hearing fans (and they're mostly band wagoners) say that Stoops has got to step up and actually win a bowl. I just shake my head and roll my eyes, and think back to the late 90s. Boy, are we lucky! I have often wondered why it is that I love OU football so much. The only answer that comes to mind is my dad. Starting with that Syracuse game in 94, it was dad who always got me and every one else excited about the games. I love OU, because dad love OU. My dad died in 2006, and every time I sit down to watch my beloved Sooners play, I think about dad. He is always the silent spectator, back when he was alive, and now. Sitting back, and just enjoying the game just like he always did. I will always carry an empty spot in my heart when OU plays, and I suppose that is why football has seemed to lose some of it's importance. Not that I enjoy the game any less, just that it is after all, just a game. As my dad always said, there is no need to get all bent out of shape over a football game. I didn't understand what he meant at the time, but I do now. Watching the games with dad has made football much more meaningful, but less important if that makes sense at all.