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November 24, 2012

Bedlam! In! Norman!

America's best-named college rivalry is back this afternoon. My beloved No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys face the line-jumpers from Norman, the No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners.

The Story of Bedlam:

In the Year of our Lord 1900, Oklahoma A&M (as Oklahoma State was then called) veterinary medicine professor Dr. L.L. Lewis brought together a group of students to participate in the first Oklahoma Territory Track and Field Meet. I say Oklahoma "Territory" because, you will recall, Oklahoma wasn't yet a state when this rivalry began.

Held on May 4, 1900, the event included several smaller Oklahoma schools -- Alva Normal College, Central Normal of Edmond, Kingfisher College -- and, of course, Oklahoma University. The prize of the tournament was a silver cup donated by a local jeweler named Douglas. A&M won the meet and returned to Stillwater with the traveling trophy.

In 1901, A&M won again, and a third consecutive win would mean permanent retirement of the Douglas Cup in Stillwater.

The third meet was held on May 23, 1902, with the Aggies winning the most points. Oklahoma, sore at their drubbing, filed a protest based on the pole vault competition not having been completed due to darkness. Nevertheless, A&M claimed the Douglas Cup and returned victorious to Stillwater.

The next day the Sooners held their own pole vault competition and declared themselves the victors of the tournament. Several weeks later, the Douglas Cup was stolen from its place of honor in a glass case at the A&M chemistry lab. Suspecting that Sooners had taken the Cup, a group of A&M students made a daring raid to Norman where they retrieved the Cup and buried it under Old Central for safekeeping.

Ten years later, when excavation was being done for a new classroom building, the trophy was found. Today the Douglas Cup resides safely in OSU's Heritage Hall.

Bedlam football starts in Norman in an hour two hours. You can get the game on ESPN.


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posted by Gabriel Malor at 01:31 PM

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