The day before Notre Dame upset Oklahoma to end the Sooners' wondrous 47-game winning streak, a news story out of Omaha quoted a University of Oklahoma psychiatrist as saying that Oklahoma football fans were beginning to be just plain bored with their team.
"Variety is not only the spice of life, it is the very stuff of which life is made," said Dr. Jay T. Shurley, in Omaha to speak at the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute. "That's one reason why Oklahoma fans are getting a little indifferent about their football team. They're beginning to be just plain bored."
Dr. Shurley is an expert on boredom. For the past three years he's taken part in experiments to test the effect of complete isolation on body and mind. Subjects (including Dr. Shurley himself) were floated in a tank of water with all light, sound, odor and even the sense of touch withdrawn. So far no subject has been able to endure the complete isolation for more than three hours. "Man needs stimulation," concluded Dr. Shurley, "from minute to minute, and second to second." And, it may be presumed, from game to game.
After the stunning news from Norman had reached Omaha via coaxial cable, a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED correspondent called up Dr. Shurley. Said the doctor: "This is how one gets to be a prophet. After I had chatted with you yesterday, I thought to myself, 'Now why was I talking like that?' I concluded that in the back of my mind I felt that the psychological atmosphere was ripe for a change. But I didn't know it would come so soon."
Dr. Shurley was a little apprehensive lest his pregame comments cause his reception at home to be, perhaps, unfriendly. He was reassured. It was pointed out that his lecture tour would keep him away from home for another 10 days, and by that time Oklahoma would have played—and very likely defeated—its next opponent. Sooner fans would pretty surely be thinking of one victory down and 47 to go for a new record.
"Say, that's right," said Dr. Shurley with the air of a man not at all bored. "Let's hope so."
WORDS OF THE WEEK
I wish I could stay till Saturday," said Dwight Eisenhower the other night in Oklahoma City. "I have heard you have a pretty fair sort of football team, and of course I should like very much to see it play."
This declaration brought the loudest cheer of the evening from the 6,000 who were present to hear Ike's big speech on national defense. Conceivably every single one of them was an Oklahoma University football fan. From Saturday to Saturday it was a football week: football provoked not only cheers, but also snarls, boos, soul-searching and controversy. When people turned their thoughts from satellites and security, they turned, as often as not, to football.