OU-Florida State matchup not about off-field taunts
There is an acceptable level of smack talk that can surround a college football game, and there is the completely unacceptable and out-of-line things one Florida State fan has posted on Twitter this week.
On Monday, a Seminole fan tagged sophomore defensive back Tony Jefferson in a tweet saying FSU fans should send Jefferson replies and talk smack. I doubt that fan anticipated what happened afterward.
Another Florida State fan, using the handle @theghettowizard, started mentioning Jefferson in increasingly distasteful posts.
First, he said he wished Jefferson’s sister would be raped and killed.
Then: “I can’t wait for you to tackle (Devonta) Freeman. He’s going to blow you up like he’s Timothy McVeigh.”
McVeigh? For OU, which is about 30 minutes south of Oklahoma City, that insult hit too close to home.
Decent football fans don’t crack jokes about a person who was convicted of killing 168 people in the worst pre-9/11 attack on U.S. soil. That fan didn’t grow up here. You may not have, either, but I did.
I remember that day as vividly as I remember Sept. 11, 2001. One of my mom’s best friends would be dead if he hadn’t stopped to wash his car on the way to work that morning. Hundreds of people lost loved ones. That’s off-limits.
But just in case the jab didn’t quite do the job, the fan struck again.
“R U going to wear the number of that little bitch Austin Box? He was so soft he couldn’t even handle vicodin.”
I cannot begin to imagine what would possess a person to post something like that. The OU football program is still reeling from the loss of Box in May. This fan hit a new low of classlessness and vile behavior I’ve never seen before.
But I want to applaud the OU players for not lashing back. With the encouragement of Box’s sister, Whitney, they kept their cool and brushed off the extremely offensive post.
Sooner fans struck back, though. News spread, and the fan’s Twitter profile was made private, then deleted just hours after posting to Jefferson.
And that was just Monday.
On Tuesday, the Twitter handle @AustinBoxZombie surfaced, and another classless fan — or the same from Monday — took @theghettowizard’s jab, which was already astonishingly over the line, even further. Senior wide receiver Ryan Broyles chastised the person by posting, “ur playin with fire. U should be very ashamed of yourself. Hiding behind a twitter account. Shameful. I feel sry 4 u.”
Fortunately, Twitter banned the account fairly quickly.
This whole situation is getting ridiculous. I believe the actions of those people in no way reflect the attitudes of Seminole fans as a whole. But I’d imagine the Sooner nation’s response to this week’s posts weren’t very kind, either.
This is not what college football is about.
College football is not about a group of people who have zero impact on the actual outcome of the game attacking one another through social media. College football is not about arguments on message boards, smack talk on Twitter or offensive jokes on Facebook. College football is not about feeble and wildly inappropriate attempts to psyche out the opposition in this new age of communication.
College football is about competition, excellence and sportsmanship.
OU players upheld those values in their responses to the taunts. If they could, can’t you?
I urge you, Sooner nation, to not drop to these Florida State fans’ level. What they posted is appalling, but the best thing to do is ignore it. Because in the end, only the way the athletes play affects the outcome of games, but the way fans carry themselves affects the perception of that fanbase.
OU is the No. 1 team in the country — be a fanbase worthy of a No. 1 ranking.
James Corley is a journalism senior and the sports editor for The Daily. You can follow him on Twitter at @jamesfcorley.
To read a letter to the editor from Florida State officials condemning the actions of @theghettowizard and @AustinBoxZombie, click here.