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Larry Birdine - photo by LaizurePhoto
Q and A
On the Line with Larry Birdine

If there is one player on Oklahoma’s roster who is more than ready for the 2005 season to arrive, it’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 Sooners’ 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 Spectator’s Al Eschbach talks to the Lawton native about the past and the future in this exclusive interview.

Sooner Spectator: Before last year’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 wouldn’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 wasn’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. I’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 we’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 we’ll be pretty good. I think you’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 that’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. You’re coming out of high school and you’re ‘Mr. Everything.’ Redshirting is just a reality check. But I learned a lot that year.

SS: Has it been difficult for you to accept that you’ve been to the national championship game the last two years but you haven’t won?
Birdine: Yes, especially since we’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 don’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, you’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. I’ll talk to my brother. Since he’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 wouldn’t say I'm crazy. I am always a high-energy guy. I’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 we’ll be a better team.

SS: Are you ever quiet?
Birdine: Only when I’m sleeping.