Joe Wickline has left OSU for the University of Texas, which leaves the Cowboy Kingdom in mourning. In the lineage of OSU icons, Wickline ranks somewhere between Pistol Pete and Big Country in popularity. Marlboro Men all.
But perhaps Mike Gundy will survive the emotional toll. In fact, Gundy might not mind. Multiple sources told me that Gundy wanted to fire Wickline last year.
Sounds crazy, I know, and I have no clue why Gundy and Wickline got crossways. Was Wickline upset with the hiring of Mike Yurcich as offensive coordinator, which was an affront to long-time assistant Doug Meacham, who since has been hired as o-coordinator at both Houston and TCU? Was Gundy troubled by Wickline's remarkable popularity among the OSU fan base?
Those are some of the suggestions, but I don't know. I just know that it was a good thing that Gundy apparently was talked out of making a change, or he realized that Wickline had a multi-year contract, or they settled their beef. Whatever, both went about the business of producing a big-time offensive line and football team.
And Wickline again earned his paycheck. His 2013 O-line struggled early but blocked well late as the Cowboys ascended into a Big 12 title contender.
Reports that Wickline took over much of the playcalling duties this past season were refuted. One OSU source said Wickline never showed much interest in the passing side of offense, though another said Wickline wasn't made to feel welcome in passing discussions. So who knows? Sounds like a mess. But it seems unlikely that Gundy would strip any authority from Yurcich in favor of someone recently on the chopping block.
Wickline has been an OSU staple for nine seasons. The lone remaining charter member of Gundy's first staff consistently produced quality blocking, be it for Larry Fedora's tempo offense or Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid or some combination of the two.