Joe Wickline is headed to Texas, and Oklahoma State is looking for his replacement.
Who will it be?
How will he do?
In today's world, we're always ready to move on to the next thing. And while I'm as curious as anyone about who Mike Gundy will bring in to coach the offensive line — the Cowboy coach's track record for hiring assistants is pretty salty — I'd like to slow this train for a minute and take a look back at Wickline.
I'm not sure his impact on OSU will ever be fully appreciated.
Sure, Wickline was celebrated about as much as any offensive line coach could be. His intensity was well-documented. Ditto for his development of unheralded recruits and unconventional methods of mixing and matching linemen, going against the norm of having players stick to just one position on the line.
We even knew enough about Wick to have learned he had a short stint in professional wrestling.
Still, the offensive line is an under-the-radar part of football. It doesn't get any stats. It does things that are difficult for even the most die-hard football heads to understand. Fans don't often talk about it. Media doesn't often feature it.
Sexy, the offensive line isn't.
Offensive line coaches?
Even less sexy.
So, over these past nine seasons at OSU, when we praised the offense's excellence or extolled the program's rise, Wickline was way down the list of reasons why. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
You liked seeing Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle break into the open? Or Brandon Weeden or Zac Robinson zip a pass down the field? Or Dez Bryant or Justin Blackmon haul in a big catch?
All of those guys were able to do what they did in part because of Wick's lines.
And those offensive linemen have been successful regardless of whose offense the Cowboys were running. The coordinator position has changed a bunch during Wickline's time in Stillwater — Larry Fedora for three years, Gundy for two, Dana Holgorsen for one, Todd Monken for two and now Mike Yurcich — as has the offensive philosophy, but the offensive lines have just continued to produce.
Think back to the early months of last season and how shocked everyone was that Wickline's bunch wasn't humming along. Never mind that the Cowboys lost their best lineman, left tackle Devin Davis, right before the season.
Still, Wickline eventually hit on the right mix and the Cowboys had another solid season.
OSU led the Big 12 during the regular season allowing only 11 sacks.
And they did it with a bunch of guys who came out of high school largely unheralded. Brandon Webb was the most celebrated, playing in the Army All-American Game, but he ended up on a line with a guy who played just one season of high school football, Chris Grisbhy.
Taking linemen who weren't always four- and five-star recruits and turning them into a formidable force is Wick's hallmark.
“He could see that talent,” said Evan Epstein, a former Cowboy center who recently finished up his first season as offensive line coach at New Mexico Highlands University. “He's got an eye for that talent that is just different than everybody else's.”
Then, Wick would coach ‘em up.
“He'd turn them into an offensive line that could block and be effective against anybody we played,” Epstein said. “It's really an amazing thing.”
Former Cowboy and current Green Bay Packer Lane Taylor said: “He always made it work. He always adjusted to whatever offensive coordinator came in and whatever scheme he had.
“He's definitely a one-of-a-kind kind of guy.”
Wickline is regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the country. Replacing him won't be easy.
Who will it be?
How will he do?
With apologies to the Cowboys' next offensive line coach, it's difficult to imagine he will have any bigger impact than Wick.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.