Nebraska football is an evergreen subject in Oklahoma. I suspect that will remain so for another generation or so.
Oklahoma football is an evergreen subject in Nebraska. I suspect that will remain so for at least two more generations, since Nebraskans have more time to dwell on the past.
My column in the Sunday Oklahoman about the Cornhuskers drew plenty of response from Corn Nation.
The Tuesday ScissorTales repicks the 2015 NBA Draft, hones in on OSU’s newest basketball recruit and applauds ESPN for its latest Monday Night Football innovation. But we start with Nebraska and its legion of mostly-classy fans.
My daily mailbag leads off the ScissorTales because it’s always instructive to hear from our old friends in Nebraska, struggling with mediocre football, especially with the Sooners hosting the Cornhuskers on September 18.
Matthew: The sad thing from my perspective is just how self-destructive Nebraska has been since Tom Osborne retired. They have fired two 9-3 coaches (which is unthinkable to most programs). It also occurs to me that at the time that Nebraska left the Big 12, they weren’t too likable. Bo Pelini may as well have been Al Davis in red. So who is going to want to stand in solidarity with the black sheep? I get it. I hope (coach) Scott Frost can find his mojo he had in Orlando and I hope that (new athletic director) Trev Alberts can do nothing but support him finding it. I have a few of my friends here in Florida make the declaration that Frost had better talent to work with at UCF and I have a hard time with that. As faded as Nebraska’s brand is now, it still manages to consistently pull down top-25 recruiting classes. The personnel is there to beat the likes of Iowa and Minnesota every year, but something is just missing.”
Tramel: I tell you what’s missing. Talent. I don’t know what the recruiting rankings have been, other than mostly nonsense. But in the last five NFL Drafts, Iowa has had 20 players selected, Central Florida has had 12 players selected and Minnesota has had nine players selected. Nebraska has had six. I think Matthew’s friends are right.
Todd: “Thank you. I’m a lifelong Husker.’
Tramel: No, thank you. I’m a lifelong Husker admirer. I remember Rick Berns and Tony Davis and I.M. Hipp and Jarvis Redwine. To see the current state of the program is sort of sad.
Matt: “I enjoyed the article about Nebraska today. But every time I read something like this, I can’t help thinking what might have been if Oklahoma had just stood firmly with Nebraska against Texas trying to throw their weight around. The rivalry with Nebraska was intense, but I feel like there was always a mutual level of respect that outweighed Oklahoma’s relationship with Texas. I have a hard time imagining anyone in Oklahoma felt great about the Longhorn Network.”
Tramel: No, OU wasn’t/isn’t crazy about the Longhorn Network. But unlike the Huskers, the Sooners don’t have revisionist history. OU knows it has only itself to blame. Commissioner Kevin Weiberg tried to implement a Big 12 network in the ’00s. But he needed nine conference votes. He had only eight. Texas, OU, Nebraska and A&M would not support it. They thought they could stand better on their own. Weiberg grew frustrated and left for the Pac-12. And then OU, NU and A&M saw Texas go get the Longhorn Network. The difference is that OU didn’t cut off its nose to spite its face. The Sooners, particularly at the outset of the Big 12, never saw Texas as some bully trying to push around the conference, the way Nebraska saw Texas. OU saw Texas as a partner. And when the Sooners got mad at the Longhorns, they took out the frustrations on the gridiron.
David: Running from one’s problems? Yeah, Frost trying to get out of the game qualifies – just as OU’s refusal to agree to play NU annually when the Big 12 was formed qualifies. And which was the bigger sin? OU’s in my book. It had the impact of removing a big incentive to remain in the Big 12. OU also had culpability in NU’s move due to lacking the backbone to stand up to UT in key conference votes. By refusing to vote for items that strengthened the conference (and the individual school’s interests), OU caved to UT & helped pave the way for four schools to leave. NU’s move to the Big Ten was all about conference stability. Not trying to get to an easier football conference. And the increase in money was an unexpected bonus. Said another way: NU would’ve chosen less money and the Big Ten’s stability over bigger money and the Big 12’s shaky long-term status.”
Tramel: You know, it’s hard to overstate just how consumed Nebraskans are about the Longhorns. The Cornhuskers, from Tom Osborne down to the mayor of Grand Island, sees Texas as some evil villain that only the righteous will stand against. But OU didn’t see Texas that way. The Sooners often voted with the ‘Horns because that’s the side on which OU stood. Nebraskans believe this is a Shakespearean play, with the Huskers representing virtue and the ‘Horns representing oppression. But the No. 1 issue when the Big 12 was formed was academic standards; Texas pushed for a higher bar. Now Nebraska is in the high-brow academic conference. When OU gets mad at the Longhorns, it maintains its composure, waits for October and beats Texas. In the Big 12, Nebraska went 1-9 against Texas. That’s right, 1-9. Including 1-5 in the Osborne/Frank Solich era, when the Huskers still could play a little football.
Brian: “As a Nebraska football season ticket holder living in OKC (born and raised in Duncan) and a somewhat fan of yours, I must admit this was probably the worst article you have ever written! Nobody affiliated with the University of Nebraska or the Nebraska football team is trying to run away from anything! This was a ‘hit piece,’ and it’s tiresome continuing to listen to it. I’ll post this article in our Rivals site and share with you some of the replies. Hopefully you’ll get back to producing better articles here soon.”
Brian: Maybe you’ll like this article better. Anyway, Nebraska tried to get out of the OU game six months before kickoff. I literally never have heard of anything like that. The Huskers embarrassed the Big Ten and embarrassed themselves, and they quickly realized it.
Keith: “Not really sure what your message was about. Think we can ALL agree: Nebraska football has underperformed for several decades. Duh!! Old news to CornNation. See you in Norman to witness the blood-letting.”
Tramel: I really wasn’t writing for what Randy Galloway dubbed “The Children of the Corn.” I was writing for Oklahomans, who don’t really keep up with the Huskers anymore but wonder what in the heck is going on in Lincoln.
Emmanuel: “First of all, sorry for all the correspondence you are going to get. I grew up in Nebraska and will never not be a fan. But having lived elsewhere since Asia was a band with a top 40 hit, I have a little different perspective than many of my friends. Not quite so provincial, maybe. I get it. Nebraska makes an easy target because they have sucked for two decades which is twice as long as Oklahoma sucked (which, of course was the answer to the joke in the ‘80s; why doesn’t Texas fall into the Gulf of Mexico?). But that really was the reason why this Nebraskan was ticked off in the first place. Sure, everyone else in the league kissed Bevo’s butt because they were sick and tired of having their butts kicked by Go Big Red. And Oklahoma, specifically, sucked so hard that they chickened out on the annual post-Thanksgiving tradition, aka, their Black Friday Black Shirt Beat Down. So yes, I’m embarrassed that someone in Lincoln even considered dropping the 50-year celebration of the true Game of the Century. But really, Berry, Oklahoma took the gold medal in running away.”
Tramel: I never was much of a music man. I assume Asia was a band? And yes, OU was a wuss for letting the annual Nebraska series wither. But did the Sooners make the wrong decision? It might have cost the conference the Cornhuskers – some of us both north and south of Kansas believe that if the annual OU-NU rivalry had survived, it might have kept Nebraska in the league. But OU’s declaration basically was with the Big 12 South, that the Texas schools, not the old Big Eight, was where the Sooners saw their fortress. And that makes sense, right? The OU-Nebraska rivalry always – always – was based on competition. Championship stakes. Rivalries based solely on that rarely last. Florida-Tennessee. Cowboys-49ers. OU-Nebraska had a great run, a run longer than most, but when the stakes subsided, so did the fervor of the rivalry. Meanwhile, OU-Texas remains bloodsport even when one or even both of the programs are down. And we have to say, OU’s decision has worked out swimmingly. I still don’t like it. The Alabama-Tennessee model – an annual cross-divisional game for each school in a conference – was there for the Big 12 to behold. Abandoning the annual Big Red Rivalry was a bummer for everyone, especially for the Huskers. But whether we call it running away or a strategic move, this much is true. When OU partially left Nebraska, it propelled the Sooners to greatness. When Nebraska totally left Oklahoma, it propelled the Huskers to mediocrity.
Travis: “I just read your high horse article about Nebraska football. NU last national title – 1997, ending a five year run of 60-3 with three national titles. OU last National title – 2000. Total conference titles — OU/50 NU/46. Please stop pretending OU is some juggernaut. They’re in a Big 12 conference with only two competitive teams, OU and Texas. I would submit OU wouldn’t be much better in the Big Ten. Neither school has achieved much on the national stage in the last 20-plus years. OU won conference titles/bowl games out of a mediocre and weak conference run by UT. You got NU there. OU’s stuck with a Guilty White Liberal head coach, more interested in making virtue signaling, social justice gestures. You got NU there too, enjoy that. See you in Norman; the Huskers will be there with our new AD, not the “retired” one who tried to duck OU.”
Tramel: Yeah, it’s pure hell having a coach who relates to his players and keeps going to the College Football Playoff and doesn’t have to worry about beating Purdue. National championships? Minnesota claims seven, Michigan five. Nebraska has become Minnesota South. And as for how OU would fare in the Big Ten, the Sooners played Ohio State in back-to-back years, 2016 and 2017. The Buckeyes won 45-24 in Norman. The Sooners won 31-16 in Columbus. Those two seasons, Nebraska played Ohio State. The Buckeyes won 56-14 in Lincoln and 62-3 in Columbus. The Sooners don’t mind being “stuck” with Lincoln Riley.
Scott: “As a Husker fan, I’d say the program has been trying to pass from their problems, not run. Pass, with three-yard out patterns. NU will never be a place where the top tier players want to come, if they run the same offense. NU is like a service academy that gets one or two skill players, then runs an offense that’s hard to defend and runs it flawlessly. Zone reads with average players is a joke. Oregon, in their heyday, still has zero national championships. Nice stat offense, but when the rubber hits the road, and it’s time to play the best, the best are equally as fast but larger and better skilled. I could go on but I think, hope, you get the idea.”
Tramel: Interesting discussion. Did Nebraska lose its way when it left the option offense tradition? I don’t know. Hard to win that way in modern football. Can Nebraska recruit the kind of athletes it recruited in the Bob Devaney/Osborne salad days? I don’t know. Seems hard. The Huskers burned their Texas recruiting bridge, and now they have to recruit nationally, without a national brand. Today’s 17-year-olds don’t remember when Florida State was a power, much less Nebraska.
Bradley: “What a great article. I’m a lifelong Husker fan and couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the fresh air!”
Tramel: Glad to be of service.
Scott: “The Cornhuskers will beat the Gooners. Cute choice of words in that article regarding Nebraska. We ain’t ducking the Gooners, though. Nice try and lots of talk for a team who chokes in the CFP.”
Tramel: Scott also made an uncouth reference to a porn star – I had to google the name, I didn’t know what he was talking about. About 97.9 percent of Nebraska fans are classy. But that leaves 2.1 percent to spoil the barrel.
Dennis: “As much as I don’t want it to be true, you have a great take on my Huskers. We are more than frustrated and can only hope that we man up and give you a game in a couple of months. Cheers to the Husker glory days! May they return once again.”
Tramel: You know, I mean what I said. I wish Nebraska would come back to the Big 12. I think it would be good for the conference and good for the Huskers.
Scott: “Let me say up front I cannot disagree with anything you wrote, nor its tone. It has not been a time in which lifelong Husker fans have always been proud of what’s going on. We miss OU. But more than that we miss being relevant as OU is. I will take you back to a period in OU history (‘90s) when they had four head coaches in six years. Something like 30-38-1 over that stretch. Meanwhile NU was busy being the Alabama of that era. It can happen to the best. Hang in there with us, old friends, hope we can rejoin you someday soon back on the relevant stage.”
Tramel: Thanks, Scott. OU indeed had its own troubles. The big difference I see is that while the Sooners had a troubled decade – much like Alabama, Notre Dame, Southern Cal and Penn State – Nebraska is now two decades into its slump. Big difference. Schools like Minnesota and Georgia Tech and Maryland once were college football powers, then they slumped, and they stayed slumped. Nebraska is drawing perilously close to that fate.
Nick: “I’m a born and raised Nebraskan, I was a kid in the ‘90s and watched the success of the football program and never knew it was possible to lose more than three games until I was in my late teens. You’re spot on. Nebraska has to stop thinking past performance is a guarantor of future success. I think we’re getting there. I played and coached football at UNO and was finishing grad school when Trev cut our football program. I still hold a personal grudge for that, but all things considered, Trev did a great job at UNO. He has the backbone to do this job in Lincoln. He made the hard decisions, kept his head down, did the job, and didn’t make excuses. Scott Frost? We’re still not sure. It seems like Scott still likes to make excuses. Time will tell but we’ve got to get off of the merry-go-round. Let’s see if we can do it. Thanks for your column. It’s a message we need up north.”
Tramel: Thanks, Nick. Frost is a difficult case. What Nebraska needs is what it had – continuity. Nebraska’s continuity was unparalleled in the glory days. So another coaching change would set the Huskers back. But Frost is 12-20 at Nebraska. John Blake, another favorite son, was 12-22 at OU. Cutting Frost after another bad year might be the easy thing. Finding a winning coach would be the difficult assignment for Alberts.
Philip: “During the frenzy of conference realignment a decade ago, I recall academics being a large part of the conversation. Whispers of academic enhancement by joining the Big Ten were common, especially surrounding President Boren and OU’s potential move versus a move to the SEC. In your column today you mentioned academic advantages of Nebraska joining the Big Ten. I’m curious if there’s a way to quantify those advantages since it’s now been 11 years since their departure. Have their academic rankings improved since the move? Have they secured larger research grants? I’m not sure how you go about determining if it was an academic windfall as you say. It’s clear financially they’ve done better but have they really improved academically? It’s probably difficult to quantify but I’d love to hear your take on it.”
Tramel: I assume there’s a way to show it on paper, but I don’t have the time to look into it. I’m going by what I heard from Nebraska academic people — that association with the Big Ten means hundreds of millions extra dollars in research grants. And I have no doubt that those things occurred. Ironically, Nebraska’s academic REPUTATION might have slipped in the Big Ten, because NU was kicked out of the AAU (American Association of Universities) after joining the Big Ten. Sounded like a political deal, from what I read, but I don’t claim to be an expert. Still, I am confident that Nebraska’s academics have been enhanced by the Big Ten association.
John: “In spite of any nuggets of truth that may have been gleaned from your article, your historical accuracy certainly took a hit with “Nebraska fled the Big 12 in 2010 after it tired of Texas influence…” It so obviously distorts the reality of that week. You were there, so you are without excuse. It very much looked like Nebraska would be left with a skeletal Big 12 Conference, abandoned by nearly the entire southern division. And those responsible for the well-being — not solely of a football program, but the entire University of Nebraska — acted with haste and with resolute intent, to protect the institution. As it turned out, the changes in the Big 12 did not play out as badly as feared. Nebraska was fortunate, with the Big Ten, to land in such a sweet spot.”
Tramel: Thanks for writing. But your timing is off. The firestorm of 2010 realignment was started by talk of Big Ten expansion and reports that the conference was interested in Nebraska and Missouri. The Big Ten was looking to expand the footprint for the Big Network. It was a straight numbers game. That led to the SEC and Pac-10 both looking into expansion. That is when the talk of the demise of the Big 12 started. Nebraska to the Big Ten did not happen over the course of a few days. There was no big bang. It went down rather quickly by some standards, but it was over the course of months.
Andy: “Do you think Bill Moos was run off mostly due to the fiasco with the Big Ten last fall?”
Tramel: Moos was the Nebraska athletic director who abruptly retired in the spring, making way for Alberts. The fiasco with the Big Ten was Nebraska’s rebellion when the Big Ten decided to nix autumn football in the wake of the pandemic. And the answer is, I don’t have any idea. I assume he was pushed out, but that’s just a guess. But I doubt that would be related to the Covid stuff. All that was out of Moos’ hands. I don’t know that Nebraska is upset by anything anyone at Nebraska did. The Nebraskans were upset with the Big Ten. Which is sort of funny. The Huskers couldn’t get along with the Big 12, and now they can’t get along with the Big Ten. At some point, the problem will have to be in the mirror.
Larry: “Great article. A single addition. Winning also creates demand. Three winning seasons and a conference title (not saying this starts in 2021), I think NU could go where ever they want. My hope would be the Big 12.”
Tramel: If Nebraska starts winning again, it won’t want to leave the Big Ten. But even if Nebraska keeps losing, if it wants to come back home to the Big 12, there will be a Big Red carpet stretching from Lincoln to Nebraska City, then south on I-29 into Kansas City and finally on I-35, all the way to Austin.
Five things to know about OSU recruit Moussa Cisse
Basketball recruit Moussa Cisse chose Oklahoma State right in the middle of Big 12 Football Media Days last week, so his decision might have slipped under the radar.
Forgive Cisse of his indiscretion. College football holds no great sway in Guinea, West Africa, or Middle Village, the neighborhood in the borough of Queens in the city of New York.
Cisse comes to OSU from the University of Memphis, where he was named the American Conference freshman of the year last season. Nice addition to the Cowboy roster.
Here are five things I’ve learned about Cisse since coming down from the football high of last week:
1. He’s young. Cisse is 18 and doesn’t turn 19 until September 10. He played his entire freshman season as an 18-year-old, after reclassifying for the high school class of 2020.
Just like with NBA prospects, young collegians can make big jumps.
2. Cisse has developed few roots. He came to the U.S. as a 14-year-old from Conakry, Guinea. As a high school freshman, Cisse attended St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, New Jersey. As a sophomore, Christ the King in Queens. As a junior, Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis. Then he reclassified and signed with Penny Hardaway’s Memphis Tigers. Now he’s at OSU, which will be his sixth school in six years.
Stillwater will be quite the change for Cisse. Conakry is the capital of Guinea and has an estimated population of two million. Since then, he’s lived in New York and Memphis. Memphis is about the size of Oklahoma City.
Now Cisse will live in the college town of Stillwater. Should be interesting to see how he adjusts.
3. Remember when Mike Boynton had roster problems – not enough players? Now the OSU coach might have too many players. The Cowboys return inside mainstays Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe and Kalib Boone, backup center Bernard Kouma, Texas Tech transfer strong man Tyreek Smith and 6-foot-8 Syracuse transfer Woody Newton, who is considered a good-shooting wing. Wings who stand 6-8 and can shoot generally are prime power forward candidates in the new basketball order.
Now add the 6-foot-10 Cisse, a classic center. That’s a bunch of frontcourt players for Boynton to juggle.
4. Cisse didn’t have huge numbers at Memphis, but he seemed to play well in the biggest games.
Cisse started all 28 games for the Tigers and averaged 18.5 minutes per game. For the season, Cisse averaged 6.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game, while shooting .552 from the field. But against Memphis’ toughest opponents, those numbers improved.
Against Auburn, Cincinnati, Wichita State, Southern Methodist twice and Houston twice, plus four games in the National Invitation Tournament, Cisse averaged 6.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and shot .579 from the field.
5. Cisse made just 32.4 percent of his foul shots as a freshman. That’s 24 of 74. It’s quite difficult to miss foul shots that frequently. Heck, Ben Simmons was better in these NBA Playoffs – he made 25 of 73.
But Cisse improved as the season wore on. He made just 27.9 percent through 16 games but 38.7 over his last 12 games.
Repicking the mediocre 2015 NBA Draft
We continue our series of repicking the NBA Drafts of the 21st century, and the 2015 NBA Draft was not a particularly good draft. Only a couple of stars came out of that draft. Not a ton of starters.
But just like the 2014 draft, which was outstanding, the ‘15 draft reinforces the truth that NBA scouts rarely have a good read on the talent. Some of the better players come later in the draft; some of the high picks don’t pan out.
The top five players from 2015 went 1-13-11-32-4. Picking really high is helpful. After that, it’s a crapshoot.
Here are the top 15 players from the 2015 draft. I ranked them myself, because the metrics I’ve been using from basketball-reference.com downgraded Devin Booker to a ridiculous level.
1. Karl-Anthony Towns (first to the Timberwolves): A great player for perennial woeful Minnesota.
2. Devin Booker (13th to the Suns):A star who became a superstar in these NBA playoffs.
3. Myles Turner (11th to the Pacers): Only injuries have slowed Turner, who is the prototype of a modern NBA center – good outside shooter, great rim protector.
4. Montrezl Harrell (32nd to the Rockets): Has averaged 12.8 points a game as a backup bully playing undersized center.
5. Kristaps Porzingis (fourth to the Knicks): A 7-foot-3 tower of frustration in Dallas, but Porzingis’ numbers are quite productive – 18.7 points, 7.8 rebounds per game.
6. Josh Richardson (40th to the Heat): 299 career starts for the Edmond Sante Fe wing, who is a decent 3-point shooter and a solid defender.
7. Terry Rozier (16th to the Celtics): Solid backup point guard in Boston, now a solid starter in Charlotte.
8. Willie Cauley-Stein (sixth to the Kings): Journeyman center who has 254 career starts and plays good defense, but with limited offensive game.
9. D’Angelo Russell (second to the Lakers): A prolific scorer (17.6 points a game) whose defense and ball hogging generally hurts the cause
10. Larry Nance Jr. (27th to the Lakers): Hard-working, undersized big man who is developing a good outside shot.
11. Norman Powell (46th to the Raptors, via trade): A solid wing role player on Toronto’s 2019 title team, Powell has turned into a scorer, averaging 16.0 and 18.6 points the last two seasons.
12. Richaun Holmes (37th to the 76ers): A serviceable backup center his first four years, Holmes has become quite the hand in Sacramento, averaging 13.4 points and 8.2 rebounds as the Kings’ starting post man.
13. Kelly Oubre Jr. (15th to the Wizards, via trade): Scores quite a bit (18.7 in Phoenix last season, 15.4 for Golden State this season) but a high-volume shooter and not much on defense.
14. Delon Wright (20th to the Raptors): Mostly-backup point guard who is good on defense and not bad on offense.
15. Bobby Portis (22nd to the Bulls): A versatile player who can help teams win, as we’re seeing in these NBA Finals.
Other notables from that draft:
^ Lots of early-pick misses. Jahlil Okafor went third overall. Mario Hezonja went fifth. Emmanuel Mudiay went seventh. Stanley Johnson went eighth. All were busts. Frank Kaminsky was picked ninth and Justise Winslow 10th, and both are journeymen.
^ Pat Connaughton, a hero in these NBA Finals for Milwaukee, went 41st overall.
Mannings to enhance Monday Night Football
I was racking my brain earlier this week, trying to remember who in the heck was in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth these days. I came up with Steve Levy, but ESPN’s analysts evaded me.
Then ESPN released a story about the Manning brothers that brought it all full circle.
Peyton Manning and Eli Manning, who each quarterbacked two Super Bowl champions, will take part in an alternate Monday Night Football broadcast over the next three seasons.
ESPN is calling it the MegaCast, which will air on ESPN2 for 10 games a season, with current and former National Football League celebrities joining the Mannings on the broadcast. No host has been named.
But I’ll be watching.
Thanks to that story, I was reminded that Levy’s broadcast partners are Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, and frankly, they did a solid job in 2020, after the clown show of 2018, when retired Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten teamed with Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland. Tessitore and McFarland were OK, nothing special, but Witten was woefully unprepared for the assignment.
The reviews were so bad, Witten went back to the Cowboys and played in the 2019 season, with Tessitore and McFarland going it alone. They were replaced by the Levy/Riddick/Griese crew for 2020.
But Monday Night Football has fallen far from its salad days when Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford were appointment television.
Maybe the Mannings can change that.
Peyton Manning, a button-down stickler as a quarterback, has proven to be quite the character on television, with both his kooky commercials and his interview show on ESPN+, Peyton’s Places. The Places show has franchised into other sports, including Eli Manning with college football.
“Peyton and Eli will bring a different approach, delving into conversation about broader, big-picture topics while also honing in on the game, much like fans do when watching with their family and friends,” said ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro.
Sign me up.
Good Eats: Eischen’s Bar in Okarche
I hesitated writing about Eischen’s. I sort of assume everyone knows about the oldest bar in the state and the best fried chicken in many a state.
But maybe not. Or maybe you haven’t heard about some of the modern amenities that Eischen’s now offers.
Like credit card service. For a 3.75 percent upcharge, Eischen’s will take a credit card. Or you can use the ATM machine in the establishment. But the prices include sales tax, so it feels like a wash.
Like the updated menu. Eischen’s is up to a whopping eight items on the menu. A whole fried chicken for $15, a roast beef sandwich for $7, a barbeque sandwich for $7, homemade chili for $7, a Frito chili pie for $7, cheese nachos for $5 or $8, chili cheese nachos for $6 or $10, fried okra for $5 or $8.
But skip all the noise. Just order the fried chicken. Better than Babe’s in Texas, and I love Babe’s. Better than the original Stroud’s in Kansas City, and I loved the original Stroud’s. Best fried chicken ever.
The whole chickens are served with bread (literally sandwich bread), sweet pickles, dill pickles and onions. If you need a little extra, order the okra and you’re set.
Eischen’s also serves beer, soft drinks, lemonade and bottled tea. Sorry, no coffee.
Eischen’s is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and the last order is taken at 8:45 p.m.
Okarche sits just north of the intersection of U.S. 81 and State Highway 3 (Northwest Expressway out of OKC). Okarche is on the border of Kingfisher and Canadian counties.
Okarche is one of my favorite small towns in Oklahoma. Clean, well-kept. Home of Holy Trinity Church and school, the latter the alma mater of the Blessed Stanley Rother, the first U.S.-born martyr of the Catholic faith.
Okarche High School long has been known for great basketball, girls and boys.
The town was populated by German immigrants going back to the 19th century, and Peter Eischen opened his saloon in 1896. It closed for awhile after statehood, during Prohibition, but reopened in the 1930s under Eischen’s descendants.
The massive back bar was hard-carved in Spain in the early 1800s. It was shipped to California during the 1840s Gold Rush but somehow made its way to Okarche by 1950.
In 1993, a massive fire destroyed Eischen’s, and one of the few things remaining from before the blaze is a small part of the antique bar. Seven months after the fire, Eischen’s reopened.
Now it’s an Oklahoman sports staff favorite. We go up together about once a year for a lunch outing.
I’ve actually never been to Eischen’s for dinner, when the wait can be extensive. But worth it, for the best fried chicken in all the land.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.