Barry Switzer reacts to the "Sooner Schooner Penalty" 1985





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Published on Oct 12, 2007

The 1985 Orange Bowl, played between the Sooners and the Washington Huskies, is often called "the Sooner Schooner game" because of an incident during the game's second half.

The Miami area had received rain before the game, and the condition of the Orange Bowl's natural grass playing surface deteriorated as the game moved into the third quarter. The game was tied 14-14 when the Sooners lined up for a short, 22-yard field goal which would have made the score 17-14 in Oklahoma's favor.

The kick sailed through the uprights and the Oklahoma sideline thought it was good; the kickoff unit trotted out and the Schooner, as was traditional, also trotted slowly onto the Orange Bowl's wet, mushy field. However, the kick was nullified due to an illegal procedure penalty on Oklahoma. A Sooner player did not report his temporary jersey number to the officials, which he was required to do before the ball was snapped.

The Schooner was already out on the field before the Oklahoma sideline and the RUF/NEKS realized the kick had been disallowed. Worse, while moving across the wet, sloppy natural turf, the Schooner's wagon wheels ended up in a sticky, muddy patch of field and got stuck -- right in front of the Washington bench.

The referees did not realize the Schooner was immobilized; instead, they thought the RUF/NEKS had stopped the Schooner intentionally to taunt the Washington players. The Sooners were quickly penalized an additional 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.

What was previously a 22-yard field goal became a 42-yard attempt after the 20 yards of penalties were marked off. The re-kick was blocked by Washington, and the game remained tied. Oklahoma ultimately lost the game 28-17.

Barry Switzer, Oklahoma's coach at the time, said later that he had never seen a flag thrown on the Schooner before or since, "but that wasn't the difference. It would have been closer. But they (Washington) were the better team that night.

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