Home of the...Sooners???

The final line of our national anthem reads "Home of the Brave," but for five or six Saturday's each fall, 85,000-plus members of Sooner Nation inside Gaylord Memorial Stadium change that line to "Home of the Sooners."

The debate of whether the change is right or wrong has been going on for years, but it really is taking form now that the Air Force Falcons are coming to Norman for the first time in program's history. The politically correct thing to do, at least for this week if not longer, would be to cheer out the word "Brave" rather than "Sooners," or at least have the first be yelled louder.

Well, that's what head coach Bob Stoops thinks.

"Hopefully, with our people being here and Air Force coming here we'll surely be loud in singing home of the brave and nothing else," said Stoops, who is looking for his 120th victory at OU.

Stoops recalls the two teams' first and only meeting, which the Sooners won 44-3 back in 2001, when Air Force's players and coaches walked over to the student section and started singing their fight song while OU players' celebration quickly turned to a silent moment of respect.

"I really appreciated that all of our players got quiet and stopped celebrating and just kind of stood at attention and watched them out of respect," Stoops said. "[Air Force head coach] Fisher [DeBerry] commented to me a little while after that he really appreciated the class we represented Oklahoma with, the class our players played with, the respect we showed his team afterward. That really meant a lot to me."

Saturday's game will be Military Appreciation Day, and Stoops will give a welcome to the Cadets on the video board, and he will do anything else OU's administration asks him to as long as it does not interfere with his game preparation, he said.

You know the Sooners will show that same respect this Saturday, but for a few seconds there may be moments of interpreted disrespect.

The opinion on which word to say, though, even differs in the locker room.

"I think we could be more respectful as fans and not say ‘home of the Sooners' and say ‘home of the Brave,'" said senior running back Mossis Madu.

But, the Sooners are full of rich traditions, and one of those traditions includes saying the team name at the end of the anthem.

"That's a cool thing, you know," said junior wide receiver Ryan Broyles. "It just shows our pride. Well even in high school, you know, we were the Tigers in high school, and our fans said Tigers, so I really don't think it's disrespectful. We all know what it's supposed to say."

Obviously there are going to be many Sooner fans who will cheer "Sooners" at the end of the anthem, but by kickoff, whether "Brave" or "Sooners" rings out louder, the focus will be back on the game and the respect level for those cadets on the field and the members of the armed forces will not be brought into question.

"I have great respect for these young men and all the academies for their service, their commitment, their sacrifice," Stoops said. "You have to respect it and appreciate them."

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