Missouri’s 2014 Cotton Bowl champion team was recognized at halftime Saturday at Mizzou Arena, including defensive end Michael Sam.
Sam, who rocketed to international fame last Sunday when he announced to the world that he was gay, received the loudest ovation from the crowd, which had assembled for the Tigers’ basketball game against Tennessee.
The Cotton Bowl trophy was officially presented to the team and held aloft by coach Gary Pinkel and Sam, who was chosen as the team MVP, to a standing ovation.
Pinkel was also presented with a framed 102 jersey, signifying his record-breaking 102nd victory at Missouri. He passed Don Faurot as the program’s winningest coach with a 41-31 victory against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl.
As the team walked off the floor, Sam, who was not made available for interviews, walked the baseline and waved to Missouri’s packed student section. It was perhaps an acknowledgment of the campus-wide support he’s received in publicly acknowledging his sexual orientation.
Sam, who is the first gay NFL Draft prospect in history, shook hands with a couple students who managed to squeeze past security and then punctuated his appearance by performing his sack dance as he walked off the floor.
Also Saturday, members of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church were in Columbia to protest Michael Sam. Watch the video below.
Junior Jordan Clarkson’s streak of 52 consecutive games with at least 10 points was snapped.
He and fellow junior Jabari Brown had each scored in double figures in all 24 games this season entering Saturday’s 75-70 win against Tennessee.
Brown, who finished with a team-high 24 points, owns the longest streak to start a season since Doug Smith hit double figures in all 30 games during the 1990-91 season.