DALLAS — Clint Chelf plopped his newly acquired hardware on the table next to Mike Gundy.
It might've looked that way in the news conference after the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but the truth is, the Oklahoma State quarterback knows he didn't need the game's MVP trophy to remind his coach of how valuable he's become to the Cowboys.
The on-field body of evidence continues to grow.
In a 58-14 bludgeoning of Purdue, Chelf completed 17 of 22 attempts for 197 yards and three touchdowns. His hold on the starting quarterback job has grown even stronger.
Which begs the question — has he earned the starting job for next season?
Gundy wasn't ready to answer that question Tuesday.
“But Clint has finished the year strong,” he said. “We're going to work our quarterbacks just like we would any other position, but when we start out in the spring and they go running out there, Clint is going to go running out there just like he did today.”
As the starter.
The starting job is Chelf's to lose.
There is little doubt that he has played well enough to be the starter next season. He went 3-2 in games he started, with the losses coming on the road against Oklahoma and Baylor, and those two losses could hardly be pinned entirely on him. Chelf and the offense scored a bunch of points in both games, but the defense allowed a bunch and then some.
“He played well enough for us to win those games,” Gundy said.
Still, Chelf wasn't perfect in those games. Down the stretch he was particularly off. He missed receivers. He threw behind some. He threw wide of others. When the game was on the line, he didn't make enough plays for the Cowboys to win.
Maybe that seems harsh. Maybe that feels nit-picky. But it's the truth.
Could J.W. Walsh or Wes Lunt have done any better?
I can't say.
No one can. We haven't seen either of those guys in situations like Chelf faced. Maybe they'd have played worse. Maybe they'd have played better.