With Texas vs. Oklahoma weekend quickly already here, a native Dallas resident like myself can’t help but to feel nostalgic about the event. While the Longhorns already have two losses and might be on the way down this season, the Sooners have already made a choice at quarterback. The Red River Rivalry is still the signifying moment that the fall season is upon us. Not because of the game itself, but for the weekend that has come.
This weekend crosses alumni lines more than any event in the country. It doesn’t matter if you went to North Texas like me or attended Northwest Oklahoma, the red line at the Red River is real. You are Team Texas or Team Oklahoma by geography alone.
If you lived in either state you felt obligated to scream at the enemy and throw horns up or horns down. You may have never strolled down 6th Street in a drunken haze or exited I-35 to go to Norman, but you knew where your allegiance was. I can vividly remember a carload of Mean Green including myself, patrolling the outskirts of the West End to yell at every person in Sooner Red for no reason other than to represent the state of Texas.
As I got older the zany antics may have been put on hold until after the game, but I still feel the need to pick a side. My father attended East Texas State University in the late 70s. He felt the same obligation to root for Texas to defeat our neighboring rival. Ironically, the same draw to the game was based on the events surrounding the entire weekend. He retold stories of block parties in downtown Dallas before they made all the streets “one ways.” The watch parties for everyone who did not have a ticket was just as popular then as they are now.
My father, like me, also saw the significance of having the backdrop of the State Fair as the biggest appeal to the weekend. The thousands of people walking the fair grounds before, during, and after the game meant you were a part of a big party no matter if you wanted to be or not. The State Fair is the biggest outdoor party in the world on that day (sorry Alabama vs. Auburn fans).
No other college football game can have a better backdrop than the sights, sounds, and smells of the Fair.