HOT SOONER TIPS: An Oklahoma Fan Guide to the Bay Area
Oklahoma is among the four teams that can advance to the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship at Levi’s Stadium. Mark Purdy, a longtime Northern California journalist and Bay Area 2019 contributor, offers helpful specific advice to Sooner fans who follow their team to Santa Clara and are looking for things to do before the game.
Must-Attend Championship Weekend Activity: OneRepublic Concert at AT&T Playoff Playlist Live. There will be three nights of free music from top entertainment acts all weekend at Discovery Meadow, just two blocks away from Playoff Fan Central in downtown San Jose. The rapper Logic and singer Ellie Golding will certainly draw big crowds. But any rock fan from the Oklahoma knows that Ryan Tedder, lead singer of OneRepublic, was born in Tulsa and went to high school in suburban Jenks. That’s where he first caught the songwriting and performing bug before moving to Colorado, where he eventually put together his band. So you’d have to believe that when OneRepublic hits the stage on Sunday night, Oklahoma fans will be there in abundance to pump fists and sing along to the band’s hits. If Tedder has any sense of the moment, he’ll work up an arrangement of “Boomer Sooner” for an encore.
Must-Visit Historic Bay Area Site: Batters’ Box at The Oakland Coliseum. Granted, it is very recent history. But one day, it could be remembered as a monumental moment. Back in June after the Oakland A’s drafted Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, the team flew him to town and had him take batting practice two hours before a home game. After Murray launched one ball over the centerfield fence, A’s executive vice-president Billy Beane said, “In January, we’re going to be so excited this kid is playing for the Oakland A’s.” That is still the plan -- although after Murray’s outstanding Heisman Trophy season, there’s plenty of chatter otherwise. If Murray becomes a Major League star, that batters’ box will be where it all began. If Murray decides to stick with football after January, that same batters’ box may be recalled as the highlight of his baseball life. Sooner fans will likely find the Coliseum gates locked if they visit, but maybe they can stop by the A’s offices and ask Beane to allow Murray one more season at quarterback.
Recommended Local Hangout: Henry’s World Famous Hi Life. Nothing quite matches the Oklahoma barbecue vibe, but a close facsimile can be found at this near-century-old, wood-siding-converted former boarding house for railroad workers. It could have been transplanted from a small town in the Sooner State. Henry’s is located in San Jose’s Little Italy, tucked away behind SAP Center. You’ll smell the barbecue smoke about half a block before you arrive, with chicken, ribs and steaks cooking on the grill. The dining room isn’t plush, which is exactly the point. The bar in front is a renowned Sharks’ pregame spot. But football conversations are also plentiful.