Bedlam refers to Oklahoma State University’s in-state rivalry with the University
of Oklahoma, which has produced many classic battles in men’s and women’s sports.
The rivalry has its roots in the schools’ prestigious wrestling programs; OSU has
won 34 NCAA titles, OU 7. The story goes that a newspaper reporter emerged from a
wrestling match in OSU’s historic Gallagher Hall (now Gallagher-Iba Arena) and said,
“It’s bedlam in there!”
OSU’s first football victory over the Sooners was a 9-0 win in 1917 and the Old Central
bell was heard around campus and community. OU students took the bell clapper from
the tower during OSU’s 7-0 Homecoming victory over the Sooners in 1932; the bell still
rang as students used a sledge hammer to celebrate the victory.
OSU students later reclaimed the clapper, but OU said it was a clapper from a Norman church, not the Old Central one. In 1966, a compromise was made and the bell clapper that once hung in the bell of Old Central became the symbolic trophy in the bedlam football game. The tradition of the bell clapper continues today but in a different form - a crystal bell goes to the bedlam winner in each sport and the winner of the overall series.