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Old 01-13-2020, 11:36 PM   #1
Sooner04
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Join Date: May 2009
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Arrow Of a Sequined Hat and Ears to Yank

They're out there. You'll know them by the smile on their face as a fleeting memory flashes thoughts of Shawn Clark to their frontal lobe. You'll know them by their hatred of Danny Manning and Rick Fox. These people saw the summit. These are fans who know the thrill of a packed Lloyd Noble when the home team takes the floor on an unfurled red carpet.

They are OU Basketball fans, and they are out there. They attended the Irvine game. Regardless of how terrible the officiating was, they may or may not have thrown anything on the floor. Abercrombie in the corner, Hollis out-flanking Bobby Knight: you can see it all if you lean back and close your eyes.

Coaches come and go. Players play for a spell and off they go, too. But there was a constant; a source of happiness for kids who are now parents. Through all of the fun, from Wayman to the General, from Choo to Minor, from Mookie and Stacey to Hollis and Quannas. From Skeeter's six-shooters to Corey Brewer's Omega there, right alongside, was a furry beast in a top hat with energy to burn and heads to turn.

There was OUr guy. There was Top Daug.

If you were born in that sweet spot for OU Basketball, the thrill of a scorching hot Lloyd Noble never leaves you. Be it Georgia Tech on a Sunday or UNLV in the ice, Kansas and Missouri in a 48-hour stretch, Arizona or Pitt on national TV; Jethro Reeves and his lost ID standing 6-12"; Gabe Muoneke and his suckage, or YEARS between home losses; you could count on big crowds and a large dog harassing the visiting bench.

PC Culture took away a lot of what made Lloyd Noble tick. O-State no longer enters the arena to the sounds of "Green Acres". Opposing players who foul out are no longer serenaded with "Happy Trails". A bad call is no longer met with the shark chop or a booming cascade from the Student Section that would come in crystal clear through the radio or TV....."hey ref, you suck!"

But then one day, out of nowhere, somebody somewhere decided that Top Daug wasn't up to snuff either. How could that be? He was OUrs! We're OU Basketball fans. We're used to being dumped on by the powers that be at the University of Oklahoma. We've been subjected to ridiculous ticket policies and rising prices. We're saddled with dumb start times and obnoxious in-game "entertainment". The yellow-shirted Gestapo all in our business? Horsehockey......but you rip OUr guy away from us with no warning and no reason and no chance to say goodbye? BS! No chance for him to repel from the scoreboard one final time? No chance to tip his lovely, sequined red cap to the adoring masses? That's garbage!

There was talk at the time that this was a student-led initiative. If you believe that, then you'd bet on the Warren Report being funded by Reader's Digest. Top Daug was euthanized by those at the very top. Laugh all you want, but a lot of this stemmed from the beginnings of the Capital One commercials that featured collegiate mascots in varying states of shenanigans. The men behind the curtain decided that the University of Oklahoma should have a universal mascot and that it should be centered on the Sooner Schooner. Gone was OUr man and in his place were the Horsepigs. TV exposure came with middling results, but the blowback was swift.

Slick as they are, the AD bigwigs deflected and packaged and held firm. We're moving forward with Boomer and Soonert they said, but they were not prepared for the heartstrings that were still tied to those who remembered hanging 172 on Loyola Marymount. The pinheads in the corner offices could not believe that OU Basketball fans cared, but care they did.....and they never forgot about their man......the long-eared troublemaker who never met a half-court shot he couldn't hoist.

Lon Kruger, in conjunction with the Athletic Department, sent out a survey shortly after he was hired to gauge the pulse of the masses. What does OU Basketball mean to you? What can we do to make the experience more fan-friendly? What are we missing? There was a box to write in your answers and thoughts. The calls for Top Daug's return were stunning in number.

Kenny Mossman, the PR Guru, organized a bunch of focus groups a few years back to find out what was missing at Lloyd Noble. What can we do to make this better? Now the people had a voice: that voice wanted Top Daug to return. Mossman was stunned, and dismissive, but the voices were relentless. How could this be? It's just a mascot. But no, Top Daug was not just a mascot. He was OUrs. The drumbeat got louder.

I had a chance to participate in one of these groups not too long ago. The movement was growing and opinions were turning. I cautioned those in charge not to neglect those who actually show up in favor of chasing those who may or may not partake. To those who live and breathe with the Sooners on the hardwood, it would go a LONG way to see OUr man on the sidelines once more.

The furry rascal hadn't been seen in years, not since a one-off appearance against eATMe in March of 2008. It was fitting that day that alongside the greatest team ever assembled in Norman it was our old friend, the one who'd been there through ALL the good times, would receive the loudest ovation. He was OUrs, he'd shot off pop guns toward Steve Stipanovich and he'd blown the train horn in honor of Loren Meyer. He'd crowd-surfed when the student section was thousands deep and he'd stood on the rims at Kemper Arena after cutting down the Big 8 Tournament nets.

And now, by all accounts, he is back, returning to the big food bowl at the corner of Jenkins and Imhoff that he never should've left in the first damn place. They say you can't go home again, but Tuesday night against the blue sweater-wearing, white turtleneck-sporting Chickenhawks OUr man, Top Daug, will return.

Does a mascot make that big a difference? To the cynical, probably not. But to an unabashed fan like me, it makes all the difference in the world. I attended the Irvine game in utero, and I stormed the floor to hug James Mayden when we knocked off Jacque Vaughn and Raef LaFrentz. I taped my finger like Stacey's, and I wore Converse React when everyone else wanted Air Jordans. There are several pictures scattered through family photo albums of yours truly with Top Daug. I was a junior in college when he left. I was in Arkansas burying my mother-in-law when he popped out of a box in 2008. My soon-to-be eight-year-old daughter will first lay her eyes on him tomorrow night, and I could not be happier to introduce her to the top-hatted rascal who weaves throughout some of the happiest memories of my life.

The OU Basketball fan knows heartbreak. The OU Basketball fan knows injustice. The OU Basketball fan knows neglect. But tomorrow night, a wrong is righted. It has taken a long time, but the link to all that was great has been restored. Welcome back, Top Daug. I hope your red hat shines bright and I hope your ears are up to the challenge. You were missed. I'm glad you're home.

Thank you for your time.

Last edited by Sooner04; 01-13-2020 at 11:43 PM.
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