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March 26, 2013
Bob Stoops just won't go there.
Some fans think it is an abomination.
One Oklahoma player says it's time to talk about it.
Is it finally time to start thinking about changing the University of Oklahoma uniforms?
"I want new uniforms," announced senior running back Brennan Clay Monday evening.
SCOOPHD: BRENNAN CLAY TALKS ABOUT CHANGES IN OU UNIFORMS
"Coach Stoops," Clay said, addressing Stoops through a ScoopHD TV camera, "I just want them new. Something different."
Somewhere a certain segment of OU fans are gasping for air. So many think changing OU's uniforms, or even altering them for certain games, is a crime against the program.
Which leads to the question: Why are so many OU fans against a change in the OU uniforms?
Some might remember Howard Schnellenberger storming into Norman promising books would be written and movies would be made about his time leading the Crimson and Cream.
Schnellenberger changed the uniforms, adding different types of stripes to the shoulder pads. It excited the fans then, but the 1995 season soured everyone on the former Miami Hurricane and Louisville head coach.
It soured them on everything he touched at OU, including trying to change the uniforms.
Then there were the special Texas Tech uniforms of 2009.
The uniforms were slick, all white road uniforms with white helmets and a red stripe, similar to the helmets worn by Oklahoma from 1946-56.
Wait? Oklahoma didn't always wear red helmets?
Back to that point later.
Oklahoma went out looking all bright, shiny and new that season in Lubbock and were soundly thumped 41-13.
But uniform changes haven't always been bad.
In 2003 Oklahoma kicked off the season wearing retro uniforms with the white helmets mentioned earlier. The uniforms harkened back to the Billy Vessels and Bud Wilkinson era of Sooner football.
The Sooners beat North Texas that day 37-3, and began their march to Stoops' second appearance in a BCS Championship game.
For many reasons, people are sensitive to uniform changes.
But should people be so sensitive to change? It's not as if OU hasn't changed uniforms, helmets, stripes or cleats throughout their history.
How much of a reaction did the Sooners get in 1966 when OU went to an all crimson helmet and an interlocking 'OU' for the first time?
Heck, in 1967, they changed the style of the interlocking 'OU' to what it has become today.
Back to Brennan Clay's demands for a new uniform: Clay isn't saying to scrap traditions and pull out some ridiculous uniforms. He's not saying he doesn't take pride in putting on the traditional Oklahoma uniform.
Far from it.
"I love our uniforms," said Clay. "It's not like I'm saying change the whole uniform for the whole year."
Over the weekend, there was a discussion on our Twitter feed. We brought up Ryan Broyles getting yelled at by Bob Stoops after he was flagged for taunting in that 2009 game against Tech.
We posted the picture of Stoops wearing out Broyles on the sideline. Broyles retweeted it.
Clay tweeted to Broyles, 'That pic is too fresh.'
Clay talked about that exchange Monday.
"I like it," said Clay of the 2009 alternate uniforms. "I saw Ryan wearing it and I remember my senior year when they wore those and I was like, 'Wow! Those look good!'
"I at least thought we'd get one (alternate uniform) every year. I was wrong."
Clay isn't just thinking about himself, he's also thinking about potential recruits who are watching the OU program. He remembers when he was being recruited, how schools sold uniforms to players.
He knows the allure of uniform changes has only grown stronger with recruits since he came out of high school in 2009.
"I can see the way Oregon's (uniforms) influence kids and Oklahoma State's. They like that," said Clay. "They're young and they don't realize it just looks good. It's all fashion. They also have to come here and work and that's what they need to understand. It's not just about the uniforms. It's coming to win championships."
But the hard work part usually comes later. First you have to hook the kids before you can mold them, before you can let them know what you're really about.
Oregon has the uniform hook, but it's not stopping them from getting the results on the field too.
Clay remembers when he was being recruited by Oregon, and the impression their uniforms made on him.
"It was a big focal point, (Oregon) trying to sell that to me," remembered Clay. "That caught my eye for sure. They had a jersey, they poured a gallon of water on it. It was dry. I couldn't believe it. It was crazy. That doesn't even make sense to me at all."
For the purists out there, Clay reiterated, he just wants OU to explore some alternate uniforms. Keep the Crimson helmets, jerseys and white pants that OU fans view as true OU football uniforms.
But throw in some uniforms like the ones used against Texas Tech in 2009, like the ones used against North Texas in 2003.
Clay even went so far as to say he wouldn't want to see alternate uniforms in the OU-Texas game. He says to leave that game just as it is.
"I think we should keep it traditional for OU-Texas," he said. "Okie State, we can switch it up for them."
So can Sooner fans start thinking about a potential push for alternate jerseys without losing their minds?
Clay certainly hopes so.
"Just give us one alternate," he said. "I guarantee that's going to help our recruits and that's going to help with publicity and the whole nine yards. I feel like that kind of gives us a push to play. You never know."