Todd Monken's gone.
Joseph Randle's left.
Bill Young's out. Glenn Spencer's in.
Oklahoma State football is facing change that's unprecedented in the Mike Gundy era. Losing an offensive coordinator was one thing, but now with the Cowboys saying goodbye to their best offensive player, parting ways with their defensive coordinator and elevating his backup in a mess of a situation, the uncertainty is thick in Stillwater.
But this much is sure — you still have to count the Cowboys among the favorites in the Big 12 next season.
I know it sounds crazy considering the change that's on the horizon. Who's going to call plays? Who's going to be the feature tailback? What will come of the crazy situation involving Young and Gundy? How will Spencer fare as a defensive coordinator?
Still, when you look at what the Cowboys return and what the rest of the league offers, it's impossible to think of OSU as anything other than one of the league favorites.
Let's start with what OSU has.
First, the Cowboys are committed to running the spread offense. Gundy has said repeatedly that he has no plans to change offensive philosophies even though Monken has gone to Southern Miss. Whomever Gundy brings in will either know the spread or learn it.
The latter is what happened last time. Monken didn't know the spread, but he learned it.
Worked out quite well, don't you think?
No reason to think the Cowboys won't just pick up where they left off again. They have three quarterbacks who would start at any school in the league. They have wide receives galore, including their top four pass catchers from this season, headlined by Josh Stewart, as well as Tracy Moore, who returns from injury. They have an offensive line under Joe Wickline that always seems to replace whoever graduates and carry on as though nothing changed.
Yes, the running back situation is in flux. Randle was spectacular, steady and sturdy, a rare combination.
But Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland are capable backs. And you have to think the Cowboys will be able to make a push in recruiting for a big-time tailback now that they can dangle the lots-of-playing-time-available carrot.
All things considered, the offense will be just fine.
What about the defense?
I could be snarky and say that the Cowboy defense couldn't play much worse than it did this season, but that wouldn't be nice or true. The defense wasn't all bad — even though those cushions by the defensive backs were maddening — and it returns a lot of good players. Calvin Barnett. James Castleman. Shaun Lewis. Caleb Lavey. Daytawion Lowe. Shamiel Gary. Justin Gilbert.
While Spencer has never coordinated a defense at college football's highest level, he will have lots of pieces with which to build.
So, for as much upheaval as the Cowboys have, they are in pretty good shape.
And if you look around the Big 12, there aren't any other teams that you would automatically place leaps and bounds ahead of OSU. Oklahoma and Texas are perennial favorites, but with all the upheaval in Norman, the Sooners head into this offseason as unhinged as they have been in a long time. And last we checked, David Ash was still the quarterback for the Longhorns.
We all know how well that's gone.
There are some promising teams in the league. TCU is a possible contender. Ditto for Baylor, which didn't lose a beat after the departure of Robert Griffin III. But do you look at either of those teams and say they're more capable of winning the Big 12 than OSU?
Add in the fact that OSU will play TCU, Baylor and OU at Boone Pickens Stadium, and that only adds to the Cowboys' chances of contending.
Right now, the league is wide open, and despite all of its changes, all of its departures, all of its uncertainty, OSU is still one of the teams that could jump into that top spot.
The Cowboys have lost some important people.
They shouldn't lose hope.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.