Oklahoma football: Newly built Sooner Schooner is ready for action

The Sooner Schooner takes the field (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
The Sooner Schooner takes the field (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

What would a home Oklahoma football game be without the much anticipated celebratory romps around the field by the Sooner Schooner after a Sooner touchdown?

Among the best things associated with college football are all the deep seated traditions, quirky rituals and mascots that are part of it. And one of the most recognized of all the traditions is the Sooner Schooner.

The Sooner Schooner has been effectively out of commission since it turned too sharply and took a tumble on the Owen Field turf during the West Virginia game last October. Earlier this week, a new and improved version of the iconic Oklahoma mascot arrived at its permanent home in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Schooner was sidelined for the remainder of the 2019 season, although a temporarily repaired version was used during the College Football Playoff game with LSU, but did not make any turns during its use there.

The new Sooner Schooner — version four of the scaled-down replica of the classic Studebaker Conestoga wagon used by settlers of the Oklahoma Territory around the time of the Land Rush of 1889 — was built by Werner Wagon Works of Holton, Kansas. The new version is wider, shorter and heavier than the previous version and contains design features that considerably limit the chances of a similar mishap occurring in the future.

Although more commonly associated with OU football, the Sooner Schooner, led by a pair of ponies appropriately named “Boomer” and “Sooner,” has been the official school mascot of all Oklahoma athletic teams since 1980.

The Sooner Schooner and the ponies made their first appearance at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in 1964. The Schooner is operated by the longtime all-male spirit squad at Oklahoma known as the RUF/NEKS. This is the same group that fires the shotguns after every Oklahoma touchdown.

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In celebration last year of the 150th anniversary of college football, Sports Illustrated ranked the sport’s greatest traditions. The OU Sooner Schooner was ranked No. 1.