5 Things You Need to Know About...Teddy Lehman ('04)
The bus ride. The Horns being thrown up by rival fans along the route to State Fair Park. The banging on, and shaking of, the team bus as it pulls up to the Cotton Bowl. Pulling on the jersey and walking down that the ramp as a freshman, not knowing what awaits, but knowing whatever it is, it’s loud. Taking the field. That first tackle and, if you’re a little lucky and a whole lot talented, feeling the football settle into your arms in the end zone to write the final act of a win in one of the most exciting Red River Rivalries, and punctuate perhaps the most fabled play in its history. In short, you’re Teddy Lehman.
With the 2016 version of the OU-Texas tilt on Dallas on the horizon, Lehman, the former Sooner All-American linebacker and Butkus and Bednarik awards honoree, shares his top 5 moments in the Cotton Bowl.
Co-Host of “The Rush” with Chad McKee on KREF Radio, Lehman, a who came to OU from Fort Gibson, was a key member of OU’s 2000 National Championship team. While at OU Lehman went on to be named a two time All-American (2002 & 2003) including winning the Butkus Award that goes to the nation top linebacker, and the Chuck Bednarik award as the nation’s top defensive player. Lehman also serves as a sideline reporter on radio broadcasts of Sooner football.
So, get ready for Crimson and Cream and burnt orange with Teddy’s top 5 memories from America’s greatest college football rivalry.
5. Coming out of tunnel as a freshman in 2000
I grew up in northeastern Oklahoma and as a kid I was always involved in one sport or another. Whether it was football and soccer in the fall or track and wrestling in the spring, my parents were constantly taking me somewhere for some kind of sporting event. For that reason, I didn’t have the opportunity to watch sports on TV, therefore, I wasn’t a fan of a specific team. I always say that we didn’t really watch sports at my house and people are baffled. I was always playing them.
When I showed up to the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 2000 I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Coach Stoops was heading into his second year as head coach and after showing some promise in 1999 we went into the season ranked just inside the top 25, so the fan base was becoming electric. I was amazed at the game day atmosphere. But, as we went into Texas week, the coaches and players intensity was building and it was all anyone was talking about. Remember, I was not a football fan growing up so I had never seen the OU-Texas game.
Fast forward to game time. As we left the locker room I could hear the “Boomer-Sooner” chant mixed with Texas Orange. We ran onto the field and the place exploded. I’m not sure how exactly to describe the sound you get when you mix half cheers and half boos but I would say it most closely resembles a jet engine.
4. 2001 (sophomore) bus ride into the fairgrounds
In the 2000 game, the weather was rainy and cold so as we made our way into the stadium by bus most people were taking shelter at the fair. That ride in was fairly normal. The next year it couldn’t have been any wilder. As the returning champs in 2001, our fan base was rowdy. We were ranked number three in the country and Texas was ranked fifth. Both teams knew the importance of this game. So did the fans.
When our convoy of buses arrived on the fairgrounds we were met by state troopers on horseback. The fans flocked to the commotion to get a look and it turned into a frenzy. Texas fans threw cups of beer at the buses and gave us the Texas salute, while Oklahoma fans were banging on the sides. I started to worry that we would never make it to the locker rooms.
3. 2003: 65-13
As a senior in 2003 we knew we had a great team coming back and knew we had a chance to win a championship if we stayed healthy. We had beaten Texas the three years previous and we were determined to make a sweep for the senior class. Again, both teams came in highly ranked but I feel like by this time we had complete mind control over the Longhorns.
We jumped out to a huge lead and controlled the entire game. It was awesome to be able to stand on the sidelines for the fourth quarter and watch the younger guys get their first OU-Texas experience. I was able to reflect on my first experience, when I got on the fiel;d late in the 2000 blowout and made my first career tackle for loss. Everything had come full circle and to be able to soak it all in was amazing.
2. Pregame speech by Bob Stoops in 2002
After two years of getting beat, Texas came into the game feeling really good about themselves and I think their coaching staff had challenged them to up their physicality and intensity. Our running theme at Oklahoma was that once you get past the glitz and glam of Texas they are just another team that will fold when you hit them in the mouth. I think our mockery had made its way to the 40 Acres because they came out to pregame warmups on fire. Our defensive backs did their warmups by the 50 yard line and in the middle of their drills Texas players came in and started a melee. It got out of hand pretty quickly as our defensive backs took on half of Texas’ roster.
Anybody who knows much about Coach Stoops knows that he grew up tough. They used to have boxing matches in the basement and bloody football games in the street. Do not be fooled, Coach Stoops ain’t scared of a fight. When I say his blood was boiling in the locker room before the game it’s the understatement of the year. The team gathered in a circle in the middle of the room when the locker room clock had ticked down and it was time for Coach’s talk before we took the field. Coach roared to the middle of the room and spiked his now famous visor on the floor and reminded us that we were Oklahoma. The censored version will do it no justice, so I’ll just say we tore the locker room apart then went out and beat Texas for the third straight time.
1. Superman Play
It’s one of college football’s most well-known plays that started with a little known fact. We had an excellent kicker in Tim Duncan but when we lined up for a field goal late to push our lead from 7-3 to a full touchdown, Coach Stoops elected to trust his defense and we executed a field goal punt and pinned them on the 3 after a botched return.
We were a big zone blitz team at the time and we had been blitzing them on and off all game. Texas quarterback Chris Simms’ answer was to check to the quick game and throw it outside before our defensive end could get out and give our corner some help underneath. Our defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops, knew this was about to happen, so in a timeout before the play he told our defensive end, Cory Heinecke, to stand up and cheat out if he needed to so he could defend the quick throw. We were all set to take the field after the timeout and as we turned Mike grabbed Roy and told him not to jump. It seems silly now but we had called the same blitz on a big third down earlier in the game and Roy tried going over the top and got cut in half. Well, players make plays and we all know the rest.
I still refer to it as the single greatest missed opportunity for a horns down sign, but I guess it’s still memorable.