The Moments After...

Sooners Illustrated's Joey Helmer takes a look back at the National Championship loss and gives a description of how it was n the locker room of the Sooners mere moments after the game ended.

Outside under the lights at Dolphin Stadium, junior Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and coach Urban Meyer hoisted the crystal ball, and the rest of the Gator faithful celebrated their third national championship, their second in three years.

In the tunnel on the lower concourse of the stadium outside of the Sooner locker room, the sight was not so jubilant.

The roars from the Gators above could be heard in the background, as senior strong safety Nic Harris sat on a golf cart with his head dipped in his hands just minutes after OU dropped a heart wrenching loss in the BCS National Championship game.

It was the sign of a leader with his heart ripped out.

"[It is] extremely disappointing," Harris said. "It's the last game of the season for the team. I was the captain on the defensive side of the ball. I wanted to get a win and took it primarily upon my shoulders, and that's something we didn't do in the long run."

Inside the OU locker room, another senior leader, free safety Lendy Holmes was emotional in a different way.

He ran around tapping teammates on the back telling them to keep their heads up.

"This loss, just for the seniors is their last one," Holmes said. "We can't get it no more. For the young guys they have another chance at it, and I'm just heartbroken that we just can't get it this time and that the seniors can't leave out with [a win]."

In what was a bittersweet ending for a team that won its third conference championship in a row, the leadership was never more present.

Even the younger guys on the team walked around the locker room congratulating the other players on a successful season.

Head coach Bob Stoops has continually acknowledged the leadership throughout the year, and he did again after the loss in the National Championship.

"They're great kids, young men," Stoops said. "I told the seniors in there [that] I'm just incredibly proud of them."

Many of the seniors were responsible for the more businesslike attitude the Sooners took into this year's title game and just staying focused.

"I feel like we are more focused," Holmes said before the game against the Gators. "We had a lot of goals that we had set, and we have now accomplished everything except for one, losing to Texas. But other than that, we are still going through our goals, and this last goal is the National Championship game."

Although the Sooners didn't set that last goal, the leadership was there to do it.

"I thought [the seniors] did a fabulous job this entire year of the attitude of our team, the way we took the field," Stoops said. "The attitude throughout the whole season could not have been much better. I was incredibly pleased. I told them I was proud of them, and they're on to other things as seniors. But they did a great job for us and represented Oklahoma great."


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