The Oklahoma Sooners have been to the College Football Playoff each of the past two seasons, but the search to end Oklahoma’s championship drought continues in 2019. It’s been nearly two decades since Oklahoma last claimed the title of national champion, with the Sooners winning their first national title since 1985. Bob Stoops restored Oklahoma to their championship glory in his second season as head coach of the Sooners in 2000, and Oklahoma has been ticking ever since, albeit without another national title to brag about.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of national championship games we’ve seen, with Oklahoma defeating Florida State by a score of 13-2 in the Orange Bowl, but the Sooners would take it any way they could get it. The quarterback of that Oklahoma squad? Current UCF head coach Josh Heupel, of course.
Oklahoma’s current string of 18 consecutive seasons without a national championship is tied for the longest championship drought in program history since winning its first national title in 1950. Oklahoma’s previous 18-year drought ran between championship seasons in 1956 and 1975. Can Lincoln Riley and the high-powered Sooners offense keep things humming right along and add another national championship trophy to the collection?
Last National Title Season: 2000 (19 years and counting)
Who was President?
Oh, what a doozy this year was for American politics. Bill Clinton was in his final year in the White House at the end of his second term. His Vice President, Al Gore, ran for the office in the 2000 election, only to lose the Republican George W. Bush. Although Gore won the popular vote in the United States, Bush was declared the winner in the electoral college after the results of the election hung in the balance in the state of Florida. Oh yes, there were hanging chads to determine the winner of Florida’s electoral votes. Bush edged Gore by five electoral votes, 271-266.
Someone else who briefly ran for president in 2000? That would be current president Donald J. Trump. Trump’s brief campaign came to an end in February of 2000. He would, of course, give it another try later on.
What was on TV?
Reality competition took the airwaves in a big way in 2000 with the introduction of “Survivor,” the top-rated television show in 2000. Regis Philbin was asking contestants of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in its second year on the air and still widely popular, leaving many to ask “Is that your final answer” in everyday situations.
Monica was proposing to Chandler on “Friends” and “ER” was still bringing in top ratings for NBC’s Must See TV lineup in a post-Seinfeld world. But this was the final year you could watch a baseball game on NBC. The network chose not to renew its broadcast deal with Major League Baseball.
What movies were hot?
Are you not entertained? Russell Crowe took on the role of Maximus Decimus Meridius, father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife, and he would have his vengeance in this life or the next, in the blockbuster hit Gladiator.” Topping it at the box office was impossible for nearly every film, but Tom Cruise did just that with Mission: Impossible 2. We also saw Tom Hanks talking to his volleyball friend Wilson in Cast Away and Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro teamed up in Meet the Parents.
Of course, one of the best football movies also hit theaters with Remember the Titans.
Who was on the cover of NCAA Football?
Alabama running back Shaun Alexander landed on the cover of “NCAA Football 2001,” available exclusively on the Sony PlayStation. This was the first time the ability to create your own player was included in the game, along with the option to create your own school and even your own league. Not only that, but you could play an actual playoff in the game’s dynasty mode with spots for up to 24 teams. The playoff mode never appeared in the franchise again.
The year 2000 also saw the introduction of the PlayStation 2, although the NCAA Football franchise would have to make the leap to the next generation console in 2001 with “NCAA Football 2002.” In the meantime, gamers were probably getting hooked on “The Sims” on PC, “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” on the Nintendo 64 or “Jet Set Radio” on the SEGA Dreamcast.
What else happened in 2000?
The year started with the St. Louis Rams hanging on to beat the Tennessee Titans in the Super Bowl. It was the first Super Bowl victory for head coach Dick Vermeil, and the Titans have not come as close to a Super Bowl victory as they did that day. Also earlier in the calendar year of 2000, capping the 1999 college football season, Florida State topped Mike Vick and Virginia Tech for the national championship game.
The Roger Clemens and the New York Yankees defeated Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the World Series, dubbed the Subway Series. The staredown between those two remains one of the fall classic’s more bizarre and intense moments of the 21st century. It was the third straight World Series championship for Derek Jeter and the Bronz Bombers.
The Los Angeles Lakers won their first NBA title in 12 years by topping the Indiana Pacers in six games. The Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant era would go on to win two more titles for a three-peat. Team USA won the gold medal at the Olympics in Sydney, Australia with a roster consisting of Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, and Gary Payton. The highlight of the tournament, however, was Vince Carter dunking on France.
Tiger Woods was at the top of his game in 2000 with victories in the U.S. Open by 15 shots, the British open to complete a career grand slam at -19, and the PGA Championship with a to-par record of -18.
Zion Williamson, who was just drafted No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft, was born.
Current head coach Lincoln Riley was playing quarterback for Mike Leach at Texas Tech. Future Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was in junior high school.
America Online, purchased Time Warner for $162 billion, and some people were still using dial-up to access their AOL email.
The final “Peanuts” comic strip was printed a day after the death of comic strip artist Charles Schultz.
Oklahoma has had multiple chances to add another national championship to their program’s history since winning it all in the 2000 season. In 2003, the Sooners ended the year ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings, but Nick Saban and No. 2 LSU won the 2004 Sugar Bowl for the national championship (which was technically split after USC was named the national champions by the Associated Press). Oklahoma returned to the BCS championship game the following season but were no match for No. 1 USC, with the Trojans thrashing the Sooners 55-19 in the Orange Bowl for the BCS title.
No. 1 Oklahoma reached another BCS Championship Game in 2008 but Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and company ran into a buzz saw with Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. Oklahoma has since made three appearances in the College Football Playoff, but they have yet to win a game. The Sooners have lost semi-final matchups against Clemson (2015), Georgia (2017) and Alabama (2018) despite having a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback each of the past two seasons (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray).
No team has come so close to adding so many national titles in the 21st century without getting across the finish line as Oklahoma. Will the ball bounce their way again soon?