Only four Big 12 football coaches have announced a starting quarterback for the 2013 season, which kicks off in less than five weeks.
Charlie Weis says the undeclared are not undecided.
“By the time spring's over, you know who the quarterback's going to be,” said Kansas' coach. “Unless you've got some hotshot that hasn't been on campus yet, most people know who it's going to be.”
What a royal pain in the caboose is the unfiltered Weis — to other coaches and, I suppose, to his own players, who he famously called a load of crap.
Weis has blown the cover of, among others, Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy, who have zipped their lips about the quarterback derbies being staged in Norman and Stillwater.
Stoops countered Weis, saying it “rarely” is clear after spring. Is Stoops staying quiet to keep his troops competitive? To keep foes guessing? Or does he really not know?
“All of the above,” Stoops said.
Most of us believe Stoops and Gundy know full well who will take the opening snaps of the season. Blake Bell at OU and Clint Chelf at OSU seem sure bets to run what have been consistently excellent offenses.
Bell has played to great acclaim in the Belldozer, he showed well in the spring game and he fits the mold of Stoops' best quarterbacks. Big, strapping, strong-armed, quality character.
Chelf, meanwhile, finished the 2012 season strong, going from third-string to November hero after injuries struck the Cowboys. Chelf's apparent hold on the job prompted phenom Wes Lunt to transfer to Illinois.
Of course, Stoops and Gundy have their reasons for keeping their opinions in the vault. Keep all parties motivated. No reason to show your hand until you have to, in case circumstances change via injury or misdeed. Keep opponents clueless, though in the case of OSU, Mississippi State would be working on both quarterbacks anyway, since the Cowboys have shown an effective alternative-QB package with J.W. Walsh.
Stoops is choosing from three unproven quarterbacks. Gundy was choosing from three proven guys, until Lunt transferred out after spring practice. Gundy's plight probably is more difficult.
It's hard to keep three quarterbacks happy even if none of them have played much. It's impossible to keep three quarterbacks happy when all have known the splendor of Saturday success.
Heck, Gundy might have unwittingly helped run off Lunt by trying to keep Chelf in the fold. In December, when Gundy said Chelf had earned the right to go into spring as the No. 1 quarterback, maybe he was trying to discourage Chelf from transferring, since as an OSU graduate Chelf could have left and played immediately, perhaps at a QB-deficient school like Southern Miss.
Hard to blame Gundy either way. Seems likely that one of the three was headed out the door, no matter what.
Still, not every Big 12 coach is keeping secrets. Texas' David Ash is an incumbent; KU's Jake Heaps was a no-brainer, having played well at Brigham Young in 2010-11; Iowa State has little option besides Sam Richardson; and Baylor's Bryce Petty is a star in the making, according to his very own coach.
Baylor last season had an excellent quarterback in Nick Florence. But Briles was quick to anoint Petty as Florence's successor and to embrace high goals.
A reasonable expectation for Petty? “First thing that popped into my mind is break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do,” Briles said. “His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.”
There's not any waffling in Waco.
Compare that to OU, where Stoops' heir apparent is just as apparent as Briles'.
Yet Stoops says the three-way battle between Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight will be determined by “consistency in how the quarterbacks perform, how they come to practice every day, how they go from drill to drill, how they work. Who's doing the best job of it.
“And a big thing at the position, who avoids the disastrous play. That's a big deal. Those one or two plays where you fumble the ball or throw an interception can change a game.”
Stoops consistently has waited until mid-August to name a quarterback when there's been a derby, though he didn't in 2003, picking Jason White after a spring that seemed much more uncertain for OU quarterbacks than spring 2013.
And Gundy didn't wait as recently as April 2012, when he named Lunt the starter after spring practice, for the purposes of identifying a summer leader.
Of course, Bell and Chelf aren't the only obvious choices who have yet to be christened. Texas Tech's Michael Brewer and TCU's Casey Pachall are the obvious quarterbacks on their respective campuses.
Pachall was voted preseason all-Big 12, and TCU coach Gary Patterson even admitted he asked Pachall if he wanted to attend Big 12 Media Days, though Pachall declined, wanting to stay low-key as he returns from rehab after getting suspended from school last autumn.
That leaves only two true quarterback battles: Kansas State (Daniel Sams and junior-college transfer Jake Waters) and West Virginia (Paul Millard and Florida State transfer Clint Trickett).
Weis said he twice has kept the quarterback competition open until the doorstep of the season opener, and it was a disaster both times.
Weis said he knows why coaches do that: “Their approach is to keep it at a competition as long as they possibly can, to not let their opponents know who they're preparing for. There's nothing wrong with doing that. It's just not my approach.”
Many of the coaches have an out, in that they figure to play multiple quarterbacks. OU's Belldozer has inspired many teams to have situational quarterbacks, as OSU did with Walsh early and late last season. And Patterson says that's a possibility at TCU.
“If it is Casey as the starter, you have a Trevone (Boykin) that really can beat you with his legs,” Patterson said. “He had an unbelievable spring, to be honest with you.”
Using two quarterbacks, Patterson said, makes defenses adjust. “I think you have to get ready for both of them, just like we've done for other schools in this conference. For a defensive guy, that's a lot different animal because you've got to put a lot more work into it.”
Mind games. That's what that is. Football coaches are quite good at it. Except maybe for Charlie Weis, who just tells it straight and lets us know that while Stoops and Gundy are undeclared, they are not undecided.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.