STILLWATER — Mike Gundy made his latest quarterback decision Saturday, anointing J.W. Walsh the starter after the sophomore dual-threat signal-caller relieved Clint Chelf on the third offensive series in Saturday's opener against Mississippi State and never came out of the game.
But the competition can be traced back nearly a year, when an injury-driven quarterback carousel led to Chelf, Walsh and Wes Lunt each taking on the starting role and finding success, winning at least one Big 12 contest and throwing for more than 1,000 yards. Then, there was a spring competition — where Gundy essentially named Chelf the starter then later proclaimed the competition was still open — Lunt's offseason transfer and a fall camp that ended with Gundy saying Chelf and Walsh would both play in Game 1 and that neither would be viewed as the backup.
It's certainly been a race filled with odd twists and turns. Just add it to the list of other notable quarterback choices made during Gundy's tenure.
Josh Fields vs. Aso Pogi. Bobby Reid vs. Zac Robinson. Alex Cate vs. Brandon Weeden.
It's difficult, though, to draw any overwhelmingly common themes within those choices. Gundy hasn't consistently leaned toward veterans with clout or youngsters with potential. He's had different styles of quarterbacks run different styles of offense.
If anything, Gundy has consistently valued toughness and leadership — and, of course, the ability to direct a productive offense that moves the ball and scores points. The rest of the decision-making process? Call it going with the gut.
Here's a look back at the other quarterback derby choices Gundy has made.
2012: Wes Lunt vs. J.W. Walsh vs. Clint Chelf
Lunt, then a true freshman early enrollee, won the spring battle, largely because his big, accurate arm was the most natural fit for OSU's explosive version of the Air Raid spread. But all three started at least three games when injuries plagued the position for much of the season. That propelled the Cowboys into a spring, summer and fall of quarterback intrigue.
2010: Brandon Weeden vs. Johnny Deaton vs. Clint Chelf
Weeden, after relieving Alex Cate and directing a comeback win against Colorado the season before, easily won the spring competition against Chelf, then a redshirt freshman and Deaton, a true freshman early enrollee. He is now regarded as the best quarterback in school history, racking up 9,260 yards and 75 touchdowns while leading OSU's Air Raid attack to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in 2011.
2007: Bobby Reid vs. Zac Robinson
Robinson first pushed Reid because of his mobility, leadership and toughness, then became the starter after the Cowboys lost at Georgia in the season opener. Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora had wanted to switch to Robinson earlier, and Robinson showed why that was the right call, becoming a dual-threat weapon that helped vault OSU to national prominence by capturing 25 wins and three bowl trips in his career.
2006: Bobby Reid vs. Zac Robinson vs. Al Pena
Reid beat out Robinson (who provided an “interesting twist”) and Pena in preseason camp and went on to throw for 2,224 yards and 24 touchdowns while helping lead OSU to a 7-6 season and victory over Alabama in the Independence Bowl.
2005: Donovan Woods vs. Bobby Reid
Three weeks into the season, Gundy switched from Woods, the incumbent starter, to Reid, the big-time recruit who better fit Fedora's offense. Reid struggled, then got hurt, and Pena didn't produce much, either.
2002: Josh Fields vs. Aso Pogi
Fields finished the 2001 season by leading OSU to wins over Baylor and Oklahoma while Gundy was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator. After Pogi was in a winter car accident — and the Cowboys altered their spring practice schedule to accommodate Fields' baseball load — the decision to go with Fields was a fairly easy one. He finished his career passing for more than 6,000 yards and 55 touchdowns and beat OU twice.
Staff Writer John Helsley contributed to this report