OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In the midst of now-former Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley’s departure from OU, one man felt a different kind of chaos and confusion. It all eventually led to the hashtag #SmokerGate. It’s all about high steaks, and we’re not talking football.
Travis Davidson was just a guy helping out. He owns three Tulsa restaurants and would come to Riley’s home with his barrel smokers and help host recruits by smoking tomahawk steaks. However, when Riley left, it became a full fanbase push to get them back.
“It was wild,” Davidson said.
As a lifetime OU fan, Davidson was living the dream of being involved with the OU football program.
“I was like, ‘Man, this is awesome, we’re going to come back and do events; this is so cool,’” he said.
That was until Riley left for the sunny skies and sandy beaches of Southern California.
“I tweeted out ‘Well, guess I got to go get my smokers,’” Davidson said.
More on his effort to do so later. It all started when Davidson got in touch with OU’s director of recruiting. He began to be involved in some things with the football program, like recruiting. That eventually turned into him smoking 40 tomahawk steaks for OU’s ChampU BBQ recruiting event at Riley’s home.
“I was like, ‘Man, you serve these kids one of these things, then they’re signing on the dot,’” Davidson said.
Thinking his help would continue to be needed, Travis left two of his barrel smokers behind after another recruiting event at Riley’s newest home.
“I didn’t want to lug our catering smokers up there from Tulsa on short notice or something like that,” he said.
But right after the Bedlam loss, Riley was gone and Davidson’s smokers were still at his house.
“I didn’t know who to contact because I didn’t know who still had a job,” he said.
He wasn’t sure how to go about it, but he eventually got a hold of a leasing agent for the home. That agent had to confirm that the smokers are even there.
“Oh no,” Davidson said. “Surely he didn’t just like ship them to LA or something like that.”
Confirmation came and operation smoker recovery was a go. Davidson also started tweeting about the experience.
“People just started jumping on it,” he said.
The entire OU fanbase was on board. #SmokerGate started trending on Twitter. Davidson and a friend of his went to meet the leasing agent at the house, but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.
“They wouldn’t let me near the house,” he said. “I think they thought I was going to have this angry mob. ‘Guys, I’m no threat. I just want my smokers.'”
Someone else ended up having to load the smokers and bring them to Davidson and his friend at the front of the gated neighborhood. SmokerGate came to a peaceful resolution and news traveled fast.
“People were driving by and they were like, ‘Yeah, you got the smokers back! Smokers yeah let’s go!’ It was so funny,” Davidson said. “It ended up being kind of a lighthearted distraction.”
A distraction from a coaching search now finished with the hiring of Brent Venables. Davidson said fans can now move forward with a new era of Oklahoma football and his smokers.
“That unity, keep going forward with it,” he said. “Support the new guys, there’s a reason they hired them and get ready for some good years ahead.”
Davidson said at one point he was afraid he may never get them back because the leasing agent couldn’t find them. Once things calm down after Venables hiring, Davidson said he may reach out to see if he can get involved again.