By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
With the release of Sports Illustrated’s first part of a five-part series investigating the Oklahoma State University football program came plenty of skepticism and defense of the program from former Cowboy players.
Many of those defending the program that gave them the chance to play football at the Division I program and a scholarship for an education turned to social media to dispute many of the claims in the opening piece by the sports magazine.
Former Cowboy center Ben Buie said it would have been difficult for many of the reports to be true with the way former OSU coach Les Miles ran the program: “00-04 I never saw anything like this, and the characters that they chose to interview are shady at best. Miles was such a tight (expletive), no way.”
Jamie Blatnick, who was on the Stillwater campus from 2007 to 2011, disputed SI’s claim John Talley, an area director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, paid players for not working on his ranch: “I worked for John Talley for 4 years and he is the most honest man I’ve been blessed to work with, true blue collar hard working Christian.”
He wasn’t the only former player to back the FCA director. Andrew McGee tweeted, “John Talley did nothing but good in the community and he did it the right way. And SI is allowing these fools throw dirt on his name!?”
Stillwater High graduate and former OSU quarterback Josh Fields, who was one of the players implicated in the allegations surrounding players receiving money, refuted the claims when speaking with Oklahoma City radio and television stations.
“In my time at Oklahoma State I had a great experience and I received no money during my time there, nor did I witness anyone receiving any kind of money, or benefits for that matter, while I was there,” Fields said in an interview with KOCO 5 in Oklahoma City. “To see the allegations in general was a shock and then obviously when you wake up and you see your name in there as well, it becomes a little bit of a bigger shock.”
Former OSU offensive lineman Russell Okung, who played at OSU from 2006 to 2010 and was a first-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks who is still plays for, questioned the credibility of many of the sources within the story, tweeting “Sad that players making wrong decisions such as multiple drug use and detrimental conduct have been deemed credible sources.”
Brad Girtman, who was suspended for the final two games of the 2004 season, was dismissed from the Oklahoma State program for violating team policies in January 2005. Reports during his time on the Stillwater campus surfaced that he was late for team meetings and missed classes.
Other players used as sources in the Sports Illustrated piece were also dismissed from the team within Gundy’s first year as the head coach of the Cowboy program. Calvin Mickens, Ricky Coxeff, William Bell and Thomas Wright, all sources alleging money being given to players, were all kicked off the team during their time in Stillwater.
Seymore Shaw had been suspended after he was charged with felony counts of first-degree burglary and larceny, and misdemeanor counts of domestic abuse and malicious injury to property. He eventually elected to leave the program and transfer to University of Central Oklahoma, a Division II school in Edmond.
As for the lead source for the story, Mickens was dismissed from the program in 2008 after being charged on drug charges.
A Twitter comment also made the rounds Tuesday of a snapshot of a Facebook comment by one of the sources in the story, Rodrick Johnson. In the comment, he claims one of the reports “took what I said and flipped it to his own words!”
He went on to say that he was “lied to about what this (article) is about and for that I apologize to everyone for!”