MIAMI — All-American linebacker Brian Bosworth, ruled ineligible for Thursday night's Orange Bowl game against Arkansas after testing positive for steroids, accompanied two Oklahoma teammates to the center of the field for the pregame coin toss.
Bosworth, wearing a blue headband and his Oklahoma jersey, walked hand-in-hand with defensive tackle Steve Bryan and safety Sonny Brown. Bosworth left the field before the toss, which Arkansas won.
While standing on the sideline before the game, Bosworth wore the orange number 14 jersey of Miami Hurricane Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Vinny Testaverde.
Bosworth was one of several college players ruled ineligible for postseason play after drug tests conducted by the NCAA.
"These tests are like going into a dark room with a shotgun," Bosworth said Thursday. "I got picked off early."
There was speculation this week that Bosworth, one of the Sooners' captains, would represent Oklahoma in the coin flip.
The two-time Butkus Award winner as the nation's finest linebacker wore his No. 44 Oklahoma jersey and a pair of jeans for the flip. He went to midfield for the ceremony but backed off before the actual flip. He remained on the sideline for the game.
It was unclear whether Bosworth's penalty meant he would be unable to participate in any way in the Orange Bowl. The NCAA did not return repeated phone calls to get its comments.
"We had to make some decisions using our best judgment," said Dan Gibbens, Oklahoma's Big Eight faculty representative. "Nothing in the book tells you what to do. We had to make a decision and we didn't want to be careless about it. As I understand it, all (Bosworth) can't do is play and get his way down here paid for. But I want to say up front that I don't see this at all as controversial."
Before the game, a member of the Oklahoma SID office said Bosworth was wearing a T-shirt that mocked the NCAA by referring to it as the National Communist Against Athletes, with "Welcome to Russia" also written on it.
Despite the game being played tonight in Tempe, Ariz., the Oklahoma Sooners believe they are the nation's No. 1 team.
The Sooners made their case after routing Arkansas, 42-8, in the Orange Bowl, on the same field where they lost to top-ranked Miami, 28-16, on Sept. 27.
"I think we're the best," said Oklahoma linebacker Dante Jones, who filled in for Bosworth. "We lost early in the season and we've been getting better every week since then."
Added quarterback Jamelle Holieway: "In our hearts, we know we are No. 1. I think we do have the best team in the country. If we played Miami or Penn State today, I think we would have won."
Arkansas Coach Ken Hatfield remained a Hurricanes' supporter, despite the lopsided setback.
"Miami deserves to be No. 1 because it beat Oklahoma head-to-head," Hatfield said.
Greg Horne of Arkansas entered the game as the No. 1 punter in the country, but he was outkicked by Oklahoma's Todd Thomsen, and the Sooners scored on consecutive possessions in the third quarter after short kicks by Horne.
On his first four punts of the second half, Horne had kicks of 26, 35, 33, and 35 yards.
Horne's off night prevented Arkansas from keeping the Sooners pinned deep in their territory, something Hatfield said the Razorbacks had to do.
Horne kicked nine times and averaged 41.1 yards per punt, while Thomsen had five punts and a 47.6-yard average.
The Dolphins are gone, to their new stadium north of Miami, but the Orange Bowl game stayed behind. The game is contracted for at the Orange Bowl through 1990, and probably will be after that.
Said a game official: "I don't know anyone with the Orange Bowl Committee who's even discussed it with Joe Robbie (the Dolphins' owner).
The Orange Bowl Committee wasn't happy this week with Florida newspapers and TV stations employing full-court-press coverage of Miami at the Fiesta Bowl at the expense of the Orange Bowl game.
The Miami Herald had three staffers at the Orange Bowl, 11 at Tempe.
The Orange Bowl fell far short of a sellout, which isn't uncommon.
Nebraska-LSU (in 1983) and Washington-Oklahoma (1985) both drew less than 57,000 to the old 73,000-seat stadium.
Oklahoma linebacker Paul Migliazzo, describing the night outing on Biscayne Bay for all the Oklahoma and Arkansas players: "We drank more beer than they did, but they got sicker than we did."
Oklahoma sports information director Mike Treps, when asked if the state's depressed energy and agriculture industries have reduced the number of fans who travel to watch the Sooners play on the road:
"Not a bit. In Oklahoma, OU football isn't viewed as a luxury. It's a necessity."
Louisville Coach Howard Schnellenberger, on the differences of recruiting in Kentucky and at his old school, Miami:
"Kentucky has great high school football players; there just aren't enough of them. For every 1 million Americans, you have, on the average, five kids who will be recruited as Division I football players. Kentucky has 2.5 million people. So we recruit at a lot of places . . . like Miami."
Former Oklahoma running back Joe Don Looney, describing to a radio reporter the vegetarian diet he used to get down to 165 pounds: "I never eat anything that has a face."