The Texas and Oklahoma Rivalry Surprisingly Didn't Start With Football

Alex West - Author

Jan. 2 2024, Published 8:37 a.m. ET

Quarterback Quinn Ewers #3 of the Texas Longhorns runs the ball as he is pursued by Kendel Dolby #15 of the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 7, 2023, in Dallas, Texas.
Source: Getty Images

The Gist:

  • The Oklahoma and Texas rivalry began over political shade.
  • The rivalry became deeper due to a dispute over a bridge.
  • Today, the Oklahoma and Texas rivalry is mostly about football.
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The U.S. isn't always as united as we're supposed to be, especially when it comes to sports. States' borders tend to define which team you're rooting for and hostilities come out when you don't see eye-to-eye.

However, the Oklahoma and Texas feud isn't all about sports. The historical rivalry dates back to the early 1900s and is rooted in some political upsets. Keep reading for all the details on why Texans hate Oklahoma.

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An Oklahoma Route 66 sign
Source: Getty Images

Why do Texans hate Oklahoma?

There isn't a simple answer to why Texans hate Oklahoma. To understand the context behind their hatred, you'll need to look back to the year after Oklahoma was established. In 1908, Oklahoma's governor overlooked Texan Judge M.M. Brooks for a spot on the July 1908 Democratic National Convention platform committee, according to The Oklahoman.

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Texans who were following politics at the time were livid. The governor ignored the complaints but did attend the Texas State Fair after being invited to speak. Curious, 12,000 Texans showed up to listen and share their thoughts. The back-and-forth started a years-long tradition.

While the political divide grew, it didn't result in violence or over-aggression initially. Bill Murray, who helped pen Jim Crow laws, struggled to find success in politics.

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Oklahoma Governor Bill Murray sitting on a couch during a visit to Washington on July 31, 1933.
Source: Getty Images

After losing elections for public servitude on multiple occasions, Murray dipped out of Oklahoma to help establish some farmers in Bolivia. Upon his return, he finally won an election for governor.

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Murray was incredibly forceful and aggressive in his policies, even to Oklahomans. However, he eventually turned his attention on Texas. A dispute started between the two states surrounding a bridge and the bill to pay for it. Texas Rangers were sent to cause a blockade, dividing the two states.

Governor Murray responded by destroying Oklahoma's side of the bridge. Before any real war could break out, the legal system took over and handed full control to Oklahoma. It only fueled Murray's self-important and aggressive mindset as he continued to call the National Guard on various issues.

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Where did Texas and Oklahoma's sports rivalry begin?

While the official start of their hatred was due to politics, the impact of sports, especially football, can't be overlooked in the situation. After the gathering at the state fair, Oklahoma only rubbed salt in the wound when the University of Oklahoma beat the Texas Longhorns 50-0.

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As a result, the Red River Rivalry was born. Over the years, the rivalry has become a steadfast tradition between the schools that fans turn out in droves to witness ever year. Governor Murray would later start using football as part of his aggressive policies, calling in the National Guard to enforce ticket prices to games.

In modern times, the hatred between the states dwindled into annoyance. People from each state don't mind each other, but they keep up the banter because it's fun to have a rivalry. In much of America, border states tend to keep up a sort of friendly rivalry between the two and Texas and Oklahoma are just one example.

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