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By Gerald McCoy

 

 

Dear Sooners,

When I was playing at OU, there was this chant we’d do in the tunnel before big games.

I’d call out:

“Where my dogs at?”

And my guys would respond:

Yeeeeah!”

Then:

“Where my dogs at?”

Wooof-wooof!

We’d repeat that over and over until we took the field, getting a little louder each time. That stuff, it wasn’t just words to us. It was about how we play football at OU. It was about how we have to play football at OU. You need to be vicious out there, an absolute animal.

I remember back when I was in your position, preparing to play for a national championship. We heard all the talk about how incredible the SEC was. (Sound familiar?) Honestly, all I wanted to do was get after those boys. And while it didn’t go our way, we for sure showed we had that dog in us.

Because it was us against the world. That’s just how it is at OU. We aren’t the South. We aren’t the Midwest. And we definitely aren’t part of Texas. (Thank God!)

This school, this program — it represents Oklahoma. And that means everything to a lot of people. It definitely means a whole lot to me.

Brett Deering/Getty Images

Some folks around the country are surprised that this team made the playoff yet again. That just makes me laugh, man. When is everyone going to learn? Even after all these years, people still don’t get it.

They thought we’d start losing after Coach Stoops stepped down.

Nope.

Then, when Baker left for the league, everybody said, Surely this won’t be the same OU team without him.

Wrong again.

What most people don’t get that every Sooner understands is that this program isn’t about any one person. This program is a family. We’re tight. And the more difficult things get — the bigger the challenge we face — the closer we band together. Playing for this program means you’re part of a tradition, something that’s much bigger than you are. When I played for Coach Stoops, he was always showing us film of the legends who had come before us — Billy Sims, the Selmon brothers, Rocky Calmus, Tommie Harris … I’d keep going but I don’t have all day. He showed us their highlights as a reminder that this program isn’t any kind of upstart or flash in the pan. We’ve been one of the most respected names in college football for generations — and we will continue to be one of the most respected names in college football for generations to come.

So wearing that crimson-and-cream uniform comes with a lot of responsibility. When you’re out on that field, you’re playing for your family. And this family has the highest standards imaginable.

This year’s team has fought to live up to that standard. I’ve felt proud watching you guys play. You got heart, man. You never stop grinding. When things get tough, you make plays. You’ve done that over and over again. And now you get to do it on one of the biggest stages in college football.

  1. Cannot. Wait.

Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

I know y’all were thinking the same thing as me when you found out that we’d be playing Bama in the Capital One Orange Bowl:

Good luck, Bama.

For real.

I know just about every “analyst” and “expert” has us losing this game. They view Alabama as this big, bad juggernaut in a class by itself. And honestly, they’ve earned that sort of respect. They have the wins, they have the hardware. It’s a great football program, no doubt.

But before everybody treats this thing like it’s a foregone conclusion, maybe hold up a bit and check the record books. The last three times OU faced Bama, we smoked them. Those are just facts.

At home. On the road. Neutral site. Doesn’t matter. Same result. Smoked ’em.

So yeah, Alabama might be the Superman of college football. But maybe we’re kryptonite.

You have the chance to go out there and prove it.

Now I’m not saying you need to give some kind of superhero effort in order to win. You don’t need to try to be this bigger version of yourselves. You’re here for a reason. It’s the same reason we’ve won more conference titles than I can count, and our team has had back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners. Y’all are dangerous.

But still, everything is “Roll Tide!” this and“Roll Tide!” that. They don’t think you belong. And let me tell you, the last thing you ever want to do is let another man be right when they’re talking down to you. You never let another man determine your fate, especially when it’s something that’s within your control. So take all those doubts — and any doubt you might be feeling yourself — and turn them into fuel.

When you go on that field, don’t worry about anyone watching on TV or in the crowd — or even the opponent across from you. You’re going to win this game by playing for the man next to you. Because he’s the only one who fully gets it.

As far as those supposed “analysts” and “experts”? They haven’t been running sprints with you. They haven’t been running hills with you. They haven’t pulling sleds with you. They haven’t been doing bench presses and squats with you. They haven’t done none of that! All they do is talk, and give opinions. You’ve put in the work.

You guys did all that. Together. As a team. As brothers. And now what comes next … that’s the fun part.

Now you get to show everybody what being a Sooner is all about.

Where my dogs at?

—Gerald

Gerald McCoy

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

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