Former TU football player Thomas von Borstel explains why the Cougars would make a good pick as a rival to the Golden Hurricane.
We are perpetually the small school. The closest-sized FBS university in NCAA Division I is Rice University with an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 4,000 students. With that, we maintain underdog status, a chip on our shoulder and a blue collar mentality. I start jittering at the thought of plunging the Power 5 schools into the depths of despair at the vile clutching hands of a “small school.”
While this is all well and nice, that’s not what we play for. TU competes to stupefy all foes, notwithstanding the big guys. I’ve heard questions of the nature of our school rival many times; usually, this infers some negative connotation of a lack of competitive power. This strikes me as odd, as the blow-outs of my time have been few and far between, usually performed after indignant struggle with the powers-to-be: not to mention our several championships at the hands of softball, track and rowing.
So who is our rival? We have some candidates near and far. Purportedly, Arkansas was at one point a diabolical foe, seeing as they sit about 100 miles away from TU. OSU and OU again lie in close proximity, making them regional opponents, but few would consider any of these schools our rivals due to the nature of our Group of 5 status (although I will vehemently argue for the label of Power 6). In my time here, our regional adversaries have escaped with unsatisfying victories.
Our conference opponents are the most likely candidates for rivalry. Yearly competition is the most consistent in fostering a despairing, nauseating loathing for an enemy. Proximity and consistency is the ultimate incubator of true hatred.
While I don’t truly believe that we hate our opponents, it is quite fun to think in such terms. Our most consistently gut-churning, teeth-gnashing nemesis, in my mind, is the University of Houston. Our history is long: first, we lost the honorable Dr. Phil to that damned place. Second, if such things hold any significance to you, we are the victims of one of the widest spreads in collegiate football history: 100-6 … at the hands of UH.
Every year, I see both parties hereto claw, gouge, rip, shred and concuss with such venom; it is clear there is a malice rupturing the team psyches. Our victories are all the more glorious and our defeats find us wallowing in our deficiency. No one leaves unscathed or apathetic. Not to mention, the, ahem, words that have been exchanged by certain coaches of said establishments.
It is with great honor and privilege that I will actively watch the bouts between Tulsa and Houston until one or the other is stricken off the Earth in the inevitable heat death of the universe or nuclear apocalypse.