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Larry Birdine - photo by LaizurePhoto
On the Line with Larry Birdine
If there is one player on Oklahomaâ€™s roster who is more than ready for the 2005 season to arrive, itâ€™s Larry Birdine. The junior defensive end is still wearing a little of the egg on his face from comments he made prior to the Soonersâ€™ national championship game against USC.
The Trojans, of course, won that game big and left Birdine and Company scratching their heads in disbelief. As a new season approaches, an older and wiser Birdine is anxious to get back on the field and quietly start backing up his words and living up to expectations.
Sooner Spectatorâ€™s Al Eschbach talks to the Lawton native about the past and the future in this exclusive interview.
Sooner Spectator: Before last yearâ€™s Orange Bowl you boldly came out and said that you thought USC was overrated. Did you really mean that?
Larry Birdine: Yeah, I really did. Through the entire year, I felt they got more pub than we got and we were just as good as they were. They just played the better game on that particular night.
SS: What did your coaches say to you after you said all of that?
Birdine: They really didn't say too much. They kind of wished that you wouldnâ€™t give them any locker room talk that could fire them up even more. They just told me to be careful what I say.
SS: Did any of the USC players talk trash to you during the game?
Birdine: Of course they talked trash, especially because of the things that I said about them. Trash talking is just a part of the game. I was even talking trash back even though we were losing. So it wasnâ€™t any big deal.
SS: If you had to do it all over again, would you do the same thing?
Birdine: Yes, I would do the same thing. Iâ€™m not going to take my words back. I just wish we could have come together and played a better game.
SS: Now that guys like Jonathan Jackson and Dan Cody are gone, you are the veteran of the defensive ends. How does that make you feel?
Birdine: It makes me feel good. I have to be a positive leader on and off the field for the rest of the team. Hopefully, I can lead by example.
SS: What do you think the defense is going to be like this year?
Birdine: I think weâ€™re going to be good. We have a strong defensive line and linebacking corps. When the secondary comes along and shows some experience with Eric Bassey and Chijioke (Onyenegecha) back there, I think weâ€™ll be pretty good. I think youâ€™re going to see us gel as the season goes along.
SS: Coming out of high school, did you think of going to any other school but OU?
Birdine: I did. I grew up an Oklahoma State fan since my brother (Jason Gildon) played there. So thatâ€™s where I was leaning on going to. I made my visit to Oklahoma State and then the next week I went to Oklahoma. After the visit (to OU) I knew this was the place I had to go to school.
SS: What did Jason say to you?
Birdine: He actually wanted me to leave the state. He gives me a hard time about choosing Oklahoma because he was a Cowboy. We have a little family rivalry going all of the time.
SS: You redshirted your first year, how tough was that?
Birdine: It was real tough. Youâ€™re coming out of high school and youâ€™re â€˜Mr. Everything.â€™ Redshirting is just a reality check. But I learned a lot that year.
SS: Has it been difficult for you to accept that youâ€™ve been to the national championship game the last two years but you havenâ€™t won?
Birdine: Yes, especially since weâ€™ve been there twice. A lot of people never get there in their career. Not winning and being so close against LSU really hurts.
SS: What do you hear the pro scouts are saying about you?
Birdine: I really donâ€™t know. A couple of players that left this year are telling me that some NFL teams love me. But I still have to go out there and perform and try to be a good Oklahoma Sooner and get back to the national championship game.
SS: Since you are a junior, youâ€™re allowed to fill out some paper work and let the NFL teams evaluate you. Are you going to do that?
Birdine: I probably will. Iâ€™ll talk to my brother. Since heâ€™s played in the NFL for 11 years now, he has a pretty good idea of what goes on and what I should do.
SS: Other players on the team say you are the crazy guy. What are your thoughts about that?
Birdine: I wouldnâ€™t say I'm crazy. I am always a high-energy guy. Iâ€™m always trying to do something that everyone else can feed off of. If I can do that and everyone be on the same level, then weâ€™ll be a better team.
SS: Are you ever quiet?
Birdine: Only when Iâ€™m sleeping.