Texas Sooners are true to OU in Red River Rivalry game
Oct 10, 2008 (The Dallas Morning News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The University of Oklahoma has always had its Sooner-born. Now it has its Texas-bred.
The eyes of Texas are seeing hundreds of students cross the state line to attend OU, and many of those crimson transgressors are heading home this weekend to watch the No. 1-ranked Sooners battle the home state and No. 5 Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl.
At least 4,000 Texans now call themselves Boomer Sooners, compared with only 148 Oklahoma residents registered among the 50,000 UT students in Austin, according to admissions officials.
Crossing the Red River boundary can blur the lines of loyalty between school and state, family and friends.
But it may not be as treacherous as some imagine.
"I'm not caught between any allegiances whatsoever," said Meredith Moriak, an OU sophomore from Bedford. "UT is too big, Austin has too much traffic and I've always known it wasn't the place for me."
That didn't stop her UT-bound friends from refusing to eat crimson cake at her graduation party.
Dallas sits smack in between Austin and Norman, Okla., and OU even has a recruiting center in the city.
Samantha Suchala, an OU recruiter in Dallas, said she sees numerous students like Ms. Moriak who are drawn to smaller classes and a college town atmosphere. Last year, OU enrolled 700 students from North Texas in a freshman class of 3,800. The OU Club of Dallas offers 55 scholarships to North Texas students annually, more than any other Sooner club in the state.
Texas' "top 10 percent" law also could play a role in some students' decisions. It allows the top 10 percent of a high school's graduating class automatic admission into Texas public universities, with UT being the most popular choice. That can leave strong students seeking alternatives.
Not many of the Texas expatriates will be in Norman this weekend. OU students don't have class today, turning the campus of 26,000 into a ghost town.
Oklahoma student body president and Plano native Amanda Holloway will be one of the students on the road to Dallas.
Deep in Sooner land, her allegiance does not come into question.
"I am a true Texan and definitely love the state of Texas," said the 21-year-old advertising and marketing major. "But as far as the game goes, there is no question in my mind what side I go for."
She plopped down $95 for her ticket to scream for the Sooners.
Arthur Denny and Craig Haxel agreed to suspend their friendship for the week of the game. Mr. Haxel grew up in Bedford but followed his parents' lead to OU, where he is a sophomore. Best friend Mr. Denny, 19, of Dallas, is a devoted Longhorn and UT sophomore.
"We don't mix Texas and Oklahoma in our friendship; it leads to more drama than it's worth," said Mr. Denny, who plans to watch the game at home with his part-time nemesis.
Finding an Oklahoma native on UT's campus is a little tougher.
That's partly why Suren Kanchi, a UT junior from Oklahoma City, stopped rooting for OU after his freshman year.
"It's scary on campus, and I wouldn't tell anyone," said the 20-year-old biochemistry major. "But I also felt like a hypocrite. I feel obligated to support Texas because I go here."
But he added, "I'm definitely an OU fan unless they play Texas."
Parents sometimes have a harder time establishing their allegiances.
Jaclyn and Rachel Wappel's parents switch jerseys at halftime since Jaclyn, a senior, chose UT for its music program and Rachel, a sophomore, attends OU for its pre-med training.
Jaclyn can't make it back to their Bedford home for this year's game. The last time they watched it together, a food fight broke out.
Despite the chips that got stuck in her hair, Jaclyn said the rivalry has drawn them closer.
But that doesn't make Rachel any less of an enemy on UT's campus, just as Jaclyn gets glares for her UT parking pass when she visits the younger Wappel.
"Bringing up OU is like a sin down here," said Jaclyn. "I mean, my sister goes to OU and they ask how I deal with it. They feel begrudged."
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