The University of Oklahoma Sooners football team is a popular one to follow when the college season starts up each fall.
But where exactly did they get their name and were they always the Sooners?
1) The One and Only: There are some team names that get used and reused often. The Bears, Eagles, and Cowboys are all names assigned to multiple teams across the whole spectrum of sports. But OU is the only team to bear the name "Sooners."
2) Before the Name: OU wasn't always known as the Sooners. Prior to 1908, when "Sooners" was officially adopted as the team name, OU was often known as "Boomers" or "Rough Riders."
3) A Page Out of the History Book: The name "Sooners" actually comes from the history books. The Oklahoma Land Run took place on April 22, 1889. This was the official opening of Oklahoma Territory to homesteaders wanting to claim a tract of 160 acres of land as their own. However, not everyone waited for the starting signals at noon, and those who went early became known as Sooners.
4) Pep Club Influence: Although the name "Sooners" is steeped in state history, a college pep club called "The Sooner Rooters" can be thanked for giving the University of Oklahoma the idea to use the name for its teams.
5) A Mascot with No Face: OU originality doesn't end with its unique team name. The official mascot for the team is the Sooner Schooner, a covered wagon also known as a Conestoga. The wagon symbolizes the journey of the Sooners as they crossed into Oklahoma Territory.
6) Schooner Interference: The university mascot cost the football team the game in the 1985 Orange Bowl when it raced onto the field to celebrate a field goal that was dismissed. The team was assigned a 15-yard penalty and went on to lose the game.
7) Boomer and Sooner: Starting in 2005, OU began to use costumed mascots outside of the official mascot, the Schooner. Since the Schooner is pulled by white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, the school made the decision to create costumed mascots of the same names to be a fun extension of the traditional Schooner and real ponies.
8) Mex the Dog: The very first mascot was Mex the Dog. Mott Keys, a U.S. Army field hospital medic, found Mex in 1914 while stationed at the Mexican Border near Laredo, Texas. Keys went on to attend OU and brought Mex with him. He became mascot of both football and baseball games in 1915 and remained so until his death in 1928. The university closed for the funeral of the beloved little dog, and his casket currently rests under the existing Sooner stadium.
9) Little Red: This unofficial mascot was banned in 1970, but before that the Indian dancer had a run of nearly 30 years on the sidelines of the field.
10) Fight Song: The well-known fight song, "Boomer Sooner," is one of the few things in OU sports history that actually borrows from other sources. When the lyrics were written in 1905 and 1906, the tunes were borrowed from Yale University's "Boola Boola" and North Carolina's "I'm a Tarheel Born."
Sources:"Sooner Sports - Official Athletic Site for the Oklahoma Sooners - Traditions," SoonerSports.
"101 College Football Facts," Football Babble.
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Lissa Clouser is a college football fan and has rooted for the OU Sooners team since her sister first attended college at the University in the 1990s.
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