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History and Traditions

Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health-care needs of the state, region and nation. The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center colleges offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa. OU enrolls over 30,000 students, has more than 2,700 full-time faculty members and has 21 colleges offering 166 majors at the baccalaureate level, 153 majors at the master’s level, 79 majors at the doctoral level, 36 majors at the doctoral professional level, and 34 graduate certificates. The university’s annual operating budget is $1.7 billion. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.

What is a Sooner?

College sports fans are hard-pressed to find a nickname that is as unique and as linked to a state's history as a Sooner. The University of Oklahoma is the only school known as Sooners.
The origins of Oklahoma's nickname stretch back to the Civil War era. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided that a legal settler could claim 160 acres of public land. During the "Land Run of 1889", settlers from across the globe, seeking free land, made their way to Oklahoma Territory to stake their claim to a new life. One of the few rules to claiming a lot of land was that all participants were to start at the same time. Those who went too soon were called "Sooners". Sooners were often deputy marshals, land surveyors, railroad employees, and others who were able to legally enter the territory early to mark out choice pieces of land for themselves or others. As time went on, "Sooner" came to be synonymous with Progressivism. The Sooner was an "energetic individual who travels ahead of the human procession." And Oklahoma was the Sooner State, the land of opportunity, enterprise and economic expansion, very much in the Progressive spirit that engulfed the Old South in the 1920s.
Today, the thunderous chants of "Boomer! Sooner!" roll across the Oklahoma landscape. The success of University of Oklahoma athletic teams over the years has made the nickname synonymous with something else: winning.

The Sooner Schooner

The Sooner Schooner is a conestoga (covered wagon) reminiscent of the mode of travel used by pioneers who settled Oklahoma Territory around the time of the 1889 Land Run. Powered by matching white ponies named Boomer and Sooner, the Schooner races across Owen Field in a triumphant victory ride after every OU score. 

The Ruf/Neks, OU's all-male spirit squad, maintain and drive the Schooner. The sight of the Sooner Schooner rolling across the field is one that Oklahoma fans will always cherish as one of the best traditions in college athletics.

Traditions Every Sooner Should Know

  1. OU Chant: As the OU Chant plays, those present are encouraged to stand and raise their index finger in the air, symbolizing their unity as Sooner fans.
  2. Seed Sower: The Seed Sower symbol, found both on the seal of the university and as a sculpture on each of OU's three campuses, refers to the first OU President, David Ross Boyd. The Seed Sower now symbolizes not only the seeds of knowledge and opportunity, but also the seeds of history and tradition.
  3. Fight song: The words "Boomer Sooner" characterize OU's fight song, which is played at athletic events and other OU ceremonies.
  4. Crimson and Cream: The official colors of the University of Oklahoma are crimson and cream, but they are not the university's original colors. In the fall of 1895, the colors crimson and corn were adopted, and they evolved over the years into the current colors.
  5. Clock Tower: Legend has it that if a student walks underneath the clock tower located on the west side of Bizzell Memorial Library and looks up, he or she will not graduate on time in four years.
  6. Spoonholder: It is said that if a couple kisses in the Spoonholder located on the North Oval, they will marry each other in the future.
  7. Heisman Park: Located on the east side of The Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Heisman Park boasts full-sized sculptures of OU's Heisman winners. The Heisman is presented annually as the top award in college football.
  8. OU/Texas Rivalry: One of the greatest rivalries in college football, the annual OU/Texas game, sometimes referred to as the Red River Shootout, is held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the Texas State Fair.
  9. Bedlam: The in-state rivalry between the Sooners and the Oklahoma State Cowboys is dubbed Bedlam, a word meaning a state of uproar and confusion.
  10. Sooner Magic: The term "Sooner Magic" was originally coined to refer to the Oklahoma/Nebraska football series while Barry Switzer was head coach. During the time period, Switzer's Sooners played the Cornhuskers 17 times, winning 12 of the meetings, eight of which were the result of a fourth-quarter comeback. Now, the term is often used to refer to the Sooners' success playing in Norman.

Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, OK U!
Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Oklahoma, Oklahoma
Oklahoma, OK U!
I'm a Sooner born and Sooner bred
and when I die, I'll be Sooner dead
Rah Oklahoma, Rah Oklahoma
Rah Oklahoma, OK U!

The OU Chant
Our chant rolls on and on!
Thousands strong
Join heart and song
In alma mater's praise
Of campus beautiful by day and night
Of colors proudly gleaming Red and White
'Neath a western sky
OU's chant will never die.
Live on University!