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Joe Wickline's impact as OSU offensive line coach will be hard to replace

Over the last nine seasons at OSU, when we praised the offense's execution or extolled the program's rise, Wickline was way down the list of reasons why. But that couldn't be further from the truth.
by Jenni Carlson Published: January 13, 2014

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.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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