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Oklahoma football: QB derby bound to have awkward ending

Whether it's Blake Bell or Trevor Knight who is named the Sooners' starter, history tells us there will be some strange feelings involved.
by Berry Tramel Modified: August 18, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: August 17, 2013
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— Jason White bolted down the stairway that leads from the OU football offices to the locker room. He took the steps three, four at a time.

Eliza Doolittle had nothing on White. He could have danced all day.

By the time White opened the door, at the bottom of the stairwell, he had composed himself. Back to playing it cool, even if White was joyous at being named the Sooner starting quarterback.

Quite a change from the previous August. A year and two days earlier, Aug. 16, 2001, White had received the opposite news. Nate Hybl, not White, would start.

Instead of dancing, White was despondent. Disappointed at the decision. Even wondering if he belonged at the school at which he would eventually win the Heisman Trophy.

Similar emotions will flood Blake Bell and Trevor Knight, perhaps this week, as Bob Stoops declares a winner in his first quarterback derby in six years.

Most of us think Bell will win the job, but Stoops plays a mean game of poker. He's offered no clues, even though it's been awhile.

The Sooners have been set at QB since August 2007, when Sam Bradford won a preseason camp competition and soon proved coaches right. When Bradford was injured in September 2009, redshirt freshman Landry Jones took over, so there has been little quarterback intrigue until now.

But time was, this was standard procedure in Soonerville. Five times in seven seasons, OU left spring practice without a declared starting quarterback.

In August 2005, Paul Thompson was summoned to offensive coordinator Chuck Long's office, same as White was in 2002.

As he arrived, Thompson saw Rhett Bomar walking out of the Switzer Center, obviously having come from Long's office, but Thompson couldn't gauge the news based on Bomar's expression.

“It can be a little bit awkward, without a doubt,” Thompson said of the competition.

Thompson won that day, but he lost the job after one game and Bomar quarterbacked the rest of the season.

Stoops likes to paint a picture of kumbaya, even after a winner is declared, but the truth is the opposite. Competition is stiff, emotions are raw and feelings are stung.

“When you're competitive, in practice, you don't mind them fumbling a snap or throwing an interception,” Thompson said of quarterback combatants.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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