ESPN’s College GameDay has become must-see TV every Saturday during the college football season.
And as much as the hosts own the show, the fans who show up on set, and their creative signs, have become a popular attraction, too.
One sign Saturday went too far, however, as the GameDay crew worked from Fort Worth in advance of the OSU-FSU game.
The sign read: “Send ‘em home #trail of tears #go pokes.”
Quickly, the sign started a stir and a response from the Cherokee Nation and finally an apology by the OSU student who authored the sign, junior Austin Buchanan.
After the Oklahoma State Twitter account initially favorited the sign via Twitter, the university later issued a brief statement denouncing the message and its offensive message.
The statement: “OSU does not condone the insensitive sign shown at today’s GameDay event and have requested that it be removed.”
In subsequent tweets to followers Saturday, @okstate explained that it “missed the hashtag at first glance and unfavorited.”
Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker delivered his state of the nation speech on Saturday. In the yearly speech, unrelated to the sign in Fort Worth, Baker referenced the Trail of Tears, 175 years later.
In a story in the Tulsa World Baker said: "Our ancestors were pulled from their homes in the east, forced into stockades and marched here to Indian Territory by a federal government that tried to brutally extinguish us."
Baker expressed disappointment in the banner in a statement released by the tribe Saturday evening.
He spoke earlier in the day during the 62nd Cherokee National Holiday, an event that also commemorated the 175th anniversary of the last group of Cherokees to walk the Trail of Tears, arriving in Tahlequah in 1839.
"Since these students clearly don't understand the gravity of these events, this should be viewed as a teaching moment for these young people,” Baker said. “We wish them well and hope they seek a more enlightened perspective.”
By the end of the day, Buchanan sounded enlightened.
“Though we did not set out to hurt or offend anyone when we made our banner,” Buchanan said in a statement, “I see that it did just that. Referencing the Trail of Tears in such a flippant and disrespectful manner was insensitive and wrong, and I make no defense for our having had such a lapse in judgment. I apologize for our mistake. I am truly sorry.”
Youth and inexperience have been a dominant storyline around the Cowboys.
And it played out Saturday night.
OSU had 11 players make their first start: offensive linemen Zac Veatch and Zachary Crabtree; receiver Marcell Ateman; running back Tyreek Hill; defensive linemen Emmanuel Ogbah and Ofa Hautau; linebackers Josh Furman and Seth Jacobs; defensive backs Larry Stephens, Jordan Sterns and Ashton Lampkin.
The Cowboys also played 14 freshmen, including seven true freshmen. The redshirt freshman were Jeral Morrow, Tre Flowers, Zachary Crabtree, Kaleb Smith, Vili Levini, Vincent Taylor and Dawson Bassett.
True freshmen playing were Dylan Harding, Gyasi Akem, Chris Lacy, Ramon Richards, Justin Phillips, Juwan Offrey and James Washington.
CALLING ALL CAPTAINS
OSU’s captains for the opening game were quarterback J.W. Walsh, fullbacks Jeremy Seaton and Teddy Johnson and defensive tackle James Castleman.
Need more proof that walk-ons can make it big? Seaton and Johnson are former walk-ons now on scholarship.
PICKENS STILL PREFERS TOUGH SCHEDULE
OSU booster Boone Pickens has been at the forefront of tougher scheduling for the Cowboys. So even as a decided underdog, he said he was pleased with the matchup with Florida State.
“I like it,” he said before the game. “Two or three years ago, I said in the nonconference I want to play some real football teams. Not Savannah State. So we’re playing a real football team. We’ve tied into a real big one. We’ll see how we do.”
“I’m excited about the opening game here. I’m in this stadium quite a bit, because I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. What a great place to start for us. You go back 10 years, and you’d have said ‘You guys are going to start at AT&T Stadium’ – which it wasn’t then – ‘and you’ll open against Florida State, the No. 1 team in college football,’ I would say it would seem unlikely.
“Big night for us.”
FSU’S FISHER SURPRISES YOUNGSTER
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher and his family met with Gage Klein and his family for a photo before the game.
Klein, an 11-year old Andrews, Texas, native, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia less than one year ago and was invited to the game by Jimbo and Candi Fisher. The on-field surprise was coordinated on behalf of motocross champion Ricky Carmichael and Kidz1stFund, which was founded in 2011 by Jimbo and Candi Fisher to raise awareness for Fanconi anemia.
The Seminoles wore Kidz1stFund decals on the backs of their helmets for the second consecutive season opener.
The Twitter-verse weighed in heavily on OSU’s opener with Florida State.
A few select tweets:
Former Cowboy center Evan Epstein: “I'm hoping this game won't be like golf: 5 minutes in an "screw it; I'll drive the cart"
Former OSU running back Thurman Thomas: “are you kidding me with this play calling… c’mon man.”
OSU baseball player Gage Green: “Tyreek Hill making fast people look not fast.”
Epstein: “Give Tyreek Hill the ball. All the time.”
Former Cowboys offensive lineman Levy Adcock: “Thank God for Tyreek Hill. #puttheteamonyourback”
Cowboys Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders: “Re-Energized in the closing moments of the 1st half by our D - #GoPokes”
Kyle Porter, PistolsFiring blogger: “Within 7 of the champs after 30 minutes after barely cracking 100 yards on offense? GLENN SPENCER FOR GOVERNOR!”
Former OU quarterback Kendal Thompson: “David Glidden! #Oklahoma6AProduct”
ESPN’s Ivan Maisel: “I predicted @CowboyFB streak of 52 games with 20 points or more would end tonight. I stand corrected. #ballgame #FSUvsOKST”
Former Cowboys fullback Kye Staley: “Sorry for cussin but this game got me hype!!!!”
National talk show host and former OSU basketball player Doug Gottlieb: “I see your quarterback draw and I match you. J Dub #GoPokes”