When I watch OSU football games, I normally have a certain position group I'm looking at. We've gone over several over the last few weeks. But Saturday's game was different. All I was thinking was "I hope the Cowboys win this one comfortably so we can move on to next week."
Everyone is aware of the senseless tragedy that took place during the homecoming parade Saturday morning. The Oklahoma State family has endured quite a bit of heartache in recent history. From the plane crash in 2001, to the plane crash in 2011. Just this season, the football program lost one of its own in Jeff "Pitt" Naple. Through all of these tragedies one theme has always been present, perseverance.
I, like many of you, first saw the news on Twitter. There was a rash of information and theories flying around. I stayed glued to my phone and the TV, trying to find out what happened, who was involved. I texted friends to see if they were alright. It was not any different for the players and coaches. In Mike Gundy's postgame press conference he shared as much. At that point, football is an afterthought.
We all wondered if the game would even be played or at least delayed. But the University decided to continue as planned. I think it was the right move. The team honored those involved by taking a knee at the 20 yard line and saying the Lord's Prayer, led by Coach Gundy. Go out and play the game and then do what you can to support those affected. Give the people of Stillwater and the Oklahoma State fans watching on TV a couple hours to just enjoy a football game. The Pokes didn't disappoint.
The game itself was never in question. If the players were distracted by Saturday morning's events, it didn't show. They took care of an inferior opponent at home. From a football stand point, I don't feel like we learned a whole lot. The running game was a little better. But again, it's Kansas. But for the players and coaches to go out and handle their business showed a lot of heart.
It's not easy to play a football game, especially after something like this. The players and staff were neighbors and friends of some of those affected. When the game started, the names of the victims had not even been released. You can imagine all that was going through their minds. They were the same things going through all of our minds. Said Gundy, "My message to them was that a decision was made to play the game so we need to play the game. After that, we need to do everything we can to help the people and the families involved."
Where do we go from here? How will this affect the lives of all of those involved? Will this stain a homecoming celebration rich in tradition? I can tell you one thing, those people won't have to go it alone. Like they always have, the OSU family will pull together. The state will pull together. Whether it's an act of terrorism or a natural disaster, the people of Oklahoma have proven time and time again what we're made of.
I can't even began to imagine what some of these families are going through. Things like this hit you even harder after you are parent. These people need our thoughts and prayers and support. The Cowboy football program has a unique opportunity here. They can help these people in a way most of us can't. While signing autographs or taking selfies may seem trivial, it really does mean a lot. It means that these coaches and players don't merely see Stillwater as a place of employment or where they go to school, they see it as home.