Mike Gundy relaxed his restrictions on transferring quarterback Wes Lunt but too late to give Lunt any concrete options beyond Louisville and Illinois, Lunt told Illinois sports station WFMB. Lunt is transferring from OSU to Illinois and sat down for an excellent interview on channel1450.com, a Springfield, Ill.-based outlet. You can see that interview here.
Lunt said that Gundy called Lunt’s high school coach, Derek Leonard of Rochester, Ill., “about a week and a half ago … and said that I could go to another school if I wanted, but by that time I had lost contact with those coaches. Illinois and Louisville were great choices and I just stuck with them.”
Gundy had restricted Lunt from a scholarship at any Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC school, plus Southern Miss and Central Michigan. Lunt’s stated preferences were Louisville, Illinois, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Southern Miss. Which basically reduced his list to Louisville and Illinois.
Gundy caught a lot of grief for his restrictions, including from me, which you can read about here in this column from a few weeks ago. Lunt didn’t go into detail about how many of the restrictions were lifted. It’s good that Gundy has seen the light, no matter the reason for it. Enlightenment. Pressure. Whatever. But it’s unfortunate that it came too late. Which it obviously did.
Anyway, here are excerpts of the Lunt interview, with some of my responses.
On why Lunt transferred: “It kind of happened during the season when I didn’t go back in again (after two injuries). I wanted to play it out through spring ball, because I just loved it there, I didn’t want to leave. After spring ball and talking with Coach Gundy, it was just the right thing to do for me.”
Lunt seems to have some doubt about his football future as a Cowboy. He keeps saying he loved it in Stillwater. And while yeah, it’s a total drag to redshirt after starting part of his freshman season, he’s going to have to sit out with the Illini. Why not sit out with the Cowboys and take over one of the nation’s most proven offenses, unless something else is amiss.
On Lunt’s relationship with Gundy: “To be honest, when you go to college, you don’t really have a lot of time with the head coach. It’s more the position coach. I didn’t really talk to him too much, to be honest. That’s how all head coaches are. I understand that. But when (offensive coordinator Todd) Monken left, I got to know Coach (Mike) Yurcich, loved him, but just felt like I needed to leave.”
That’s an indictment of Gundy. Lunt is right; most head coaches don’t have real tight relationships with every player. But seems like the head coach ought to develop a relationship with the franchise quarterback. Seems like that ought to be a standard procedure. Letting Lunt get away might not cost the Cowboys in the long run. But it might. And this is not a recruit who decided to sign elsewhere. This was a guy who was on campus, had shown he had big-time potential and who keeps admitting he loved it in Stillwater. You can’t let a guy like that feel disconnected enough to leave.
On deciding to transfer and discovering the restrictions: “It was hard. I didn’t kind of understand it at first. I just picked those five schools because I had a previous relationships with them before I picked OSU. It was difficult. I didn’t understand the process, so when they were blocked, I knew I could appeal but it was going to take awhile. It was frustrating. But I understand the Big 12. That’s obvious. But the others, it was a little frustrating, but that’s part of it and I understand it. It’s all good.”
I’m with you, Wes. I can understand not letting a quarterback go to Texas. I can’t understand not letting a quarterback go to Tennessee or, heaven help us, Vanderbilt.
What other schools did Lunt have contact with? “Like Vanderbilt, Alabama, Notre Dame. Those are all schools that I couldn’t go to, except Notre Dame, I could have gone there, the whole Golson (expelled quarterback Everett) thing. Alabama would have been cool to check out, but I couldn’t talk to them. That was difficult.”
What’s the deal with Bama and OSU? Ever since the Crimson Tide edged out the Cowboys for a berth in the 2011 national title game, Alabama has been waltzing with the Cowboys over QBs. Luke Del Rio was committed from OSU and ended up at Alabama last winter. Norman North’s David Cornwell, recruited by OSU, committed to Alabama just the other day. Now Lunt was interested in Bama. Makes you cut Gundy some slack for putting Alabama on the famed list.
On whether Lunt will be the Illinois savior: “It’s going to take a lot more than one person. I know that. I’ve played football for awhile. It’s not just one person. It’s a team. I just hope I can help the team as much as I can.”
Lunt is right. It’s going to take more than great quarterbacking to lift Illinois. The Illini occasionally rise up for a special season but mostly are a Big Ten rumdum. Beckman already seems to be feeling some heat, after just one (2-10) season.
On Lunt’s feeling when he was named the starting QB last spring: “It was crazy. It was overwhelming. I use that word a lot. I didn’t know what to expect. It was a whirlwind. But it was a great time at OSU.”
The truth about Lunt’s time at OSU? It was mostly hype. Well-deserved hype. Hype that I think would have become fabulous substance. But mostly hype. His games were against Savannah State, Arizona, one series against Louisiana-Lafayette, TCU, 21/2 quarters against Kansas State. And that’s it. The ‘Zona game had some great moments for Lunt, but also some shaky throws. TCU was solid. K-State was about like Arizona. I think Lunt was going to be a star. But his freshman season was spotty.
On why he picked Illinois? “There’s a lot of things, going through the process. Illinois, I’ve always loved Illinois. I grew up watching ‘em, really developed a good relationship with Coach (Tim) Beckman and Coach (Bill) Cubit. I landed up there. It was a great thing for me, because I’ve seen his (Cubit’s) other quarterbacks at Western Michigan and Stanford and such. They’ve had tremendous success throwing the ball. Hopefully, I’m fortunate enough to bring that to Illinois.”
Maybe so. But if Lunt wants to ruin his own day, he could compare Cubit’s QB production to the OSU QB production of recent years.