Joe Wickline has left OSU for the University of Texas, which leaves the Cowboy Kingdom in mourning. In the lineage of OSU icons, Wickline ranks somewhere between Pistol Pete and Big Country in popularity. Marlboro Men all.
But perhaps Mike Gundy will survive the emotional toll. In fact, Gundy might not mind. Multiple sources told me that Gundy wanted to fire Wickline last year.
Sounds crazy, I know, and I have no clue why Gundy and Wickline got crossways. Was Wickline upset with the hiring of Mike Yurcich as offensive coordinator, which was an affront to long-time assistant Doug Meacham, who since has been hired as o-coordinator at both Houston and TCU? Was Gundy troubled by Wickline's remarkable popularity among the OSU fan base?
Those are some of the suggestions, but I don't know. I just know that it was a good thing that Gundy apparently was talked out of making a change, or he realized that Wickline had a multi-year contract, or they settled their beef. Whatever, both went about the business of producing a big-time offensive line and football team.
And Wickline again earned his paycheck. His 2013 O-line struggled early but blocked well late as the Cowboys ascended into a Big 12 title contender.
Reports that Wickline took over much of the playcalling duties this past season were refuted. One OSU source said Wickline never showed much interest in the passing side of offense, though another said Wickline wasn't made to feel welcome in passing discussions. So who knows? Sounds like a mess. But it seems unlikely that Gundy would strip any authority from Yurcich in favor of someone recently on the chopping block.
Wickline has been an OSU staple for nine seasons. The lone remaining charter member of Gundy's first staff consistently produced quality blocking, be it for Larry Fedora's tempo offense or Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid or some combination of the two.
When Wickline was courted by Texas coach Mack Brown three years ago, OSU sweated out the decision. Then-quarterback Brandon Weeden was thrilled when Wick stayed in Stillwater.
“Honest to God truth, one of those guys you cannot replace,” Weeden said during the 2011 season. “I was worried. Can't replace a guy like that.”
But Gundy wanted to do exactly that last year and now has to. Hopefully, Gundy had a replacement plan.
New coaches can bring in new blood and fresh ideas. But you don't want too much turnover. Staff continuity becomes a factor at some point.
Gundy has no offensive assistants who were hired before February 2011. That's when Kasey Dunn and Jemal Singleton joined up. Jason Ray and Yurcich arrived in February 2013.
One of the ingredients of Gundy's success has been his nose for hiring. Gundy repeatedly has brought in quality lieutenants. His coordinators have mostly been good selections. So Gundy needs to keep it up with the Wick replacement. Another Marlboro Man would be nice.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.