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Football and agriculture

Imagine football without agriculture. Not that difficult, right? Well, wait a minute. Not so fast…
STILLWATER, Okla. – Imagine football without agriculture. Not that difficult, right? Well, wait a minute. Not so fast…

No hamburgers for tailgating, or hot dogs, ham salad, chili, beer, water or popcorn for that matter. No grass for the team to play or practice on. Oklahoma State University’s mascot, Bullet, is a horse, so that’s out.

As we inch closer and closer to the start of another football season and fans cramming into the stands of stadiums across the country, it’s worth pausing to consider some of the ways agriculture fits into this spectacle we call college football.

It all starts outside the stadium. Grills and smokers are fired up. Music is playing, beer is flowing and anticipation is rising. Oklahomans are fortunate in the sense that there is never a shortage of items to toss on the grill.

“We have more cattle than people in Oklahoma,” said Heather Buckmaster, Oklahoma Beef Council executive director. “The Oklahoma cattle industry is the largest in cash receipts and value of production to the state.”

The average beef consumption in the United States is 54.3 pounds per year. While it is nearly impossible to figure out the numbers from a Saturday afternoon on any Oklahoma college campus, one has to think they may spike a little.

Nothing washes down a bratwurst or burger like a cold drink. It takes crops like barley, hops, wheat and rye to create many popular beers. Some of these ingredients are grown right here in Oklahoma.

“We partnered with our friends at 46 Grain Company out of Ames, Oklahoma, to source Oklahoma-grown rye for our Exit 174 Rye Pale Ale several months ago,” said Mark Waits, brand ambassador for Iron Monk Brewing Company out of Stillwater.

The Exit 174 Rye Pale Ale is the company’s first beer to feature Oklahoma-grown grain. And, Iron Monk is upping its game.

“When we learned that 46 Grain Company was going to be malting Gallagher wheat, we jumped at the chance to include it in our Stilly Wheat,” Waits said.

Gallagher is a variety of hard red winter wheat developed by OSU’s Wheat Improvement Team. Gallagher accounts for 14.3 percent of the state’s planted wheat acres. Developed in Stillwater, it’s a perfect fit for Iron Monk.

The back of Stilly Wheat’s new vintage sports-designed can tells this story: "Loyal to Oklahoma and truly local, the roots of Stilly Wheat run deep. Grown and harvested for us by a local farmer, the base of this beer is the OSU developed wheat variety called Gallagher (we name). After gentle malting by our friends at 46 Grain Company in Ames, OK, the wheat makes its way back home to Stillwater where we carefully craft this distinctive Belgian-style wheat ale. Welcome home!"

After stuffing their faces with agricultural products, both solid and liquid, football fans march into the stadium to cheer on their team. What they may not know is several of these student-athletes have a deep understanding and appreciation for agriculture.

A handful or more of Cowboy football players are students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.

“It’s (agriculture) big time in my life because growing up I loved working with cattle and horses,” said James Washington, junior wide receiver and agribusiness major with an option in farm and ranch management. “I’ve always wanted to work or own a game ranch. That’s basically why I enjoy agriculture.”

Growing up around livestock is not a common thread between Washington and fellow Cowboy Kirk Tucker. But, having a major in agriculture sure is.

“Agriculture did not play a huge role in my life until I came to OSU, being from Atlanta,” said Tucker, junior defensive back, special teams standout and biochemistry and molecular biology major. “Now I am able to identify the importance of agriculture and how it has a huge effect on our everyday lives. I can definitely say that I have more of an appreciation for agriculture.”

CASNR has not only shed some light on the importance of agriculture for Tucker, but also is providing an avenue for him to fulfill his goals.

“I chose biochemistry and molecular biology because I will be an anesthesiologist in the near future and the amount of science courses that the degree required excited me quite a bit,” he said. “Also, being a football player, I wanted to be able to challenge myself and show other students and student-athletes that you can achieve any goal that you put your time and effort into.”

While OSU plays its games on artificial turf, many universities and even NFL teams play on natural grass. Some of them even play on turfgrass developed at OSU.

Latitude 36 was intensively tested at the university for 7 years before making its rounds to other land-grant universities throughout the country and being released in 2010. Initial sales didn’t begin until 2012, and just a year later the Washington Redskins decided to sod FedEx Field with the bermudagrass.

Other NFL teams have followed suit, installing Latitude 36 on their practice fields as it has excellent tolerance for traffic and quick recuperation after it’s damaged.

So when you’re sitting back, eating popcorn and watching your team toss around the pigskin, keep an eye open for all the ways agriculture has impacted your game-day experience. You can start right there with that bag of buttery goodness you’re trying to eat before Bullet circles the field again.




Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; phone 405-744-5371; email: has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.


Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
157 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739