Two weeks ago, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy essentially declared Clint Chelf would enter the 2013 season as the Cowboys' starting quarterback following the senior's emergency ascension up the depth chart and strong finish down the stretch in 2012.
“Chelf is our starter,” Gundy said then. “He takes all the reps with the (first team) right now. Those guys (J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt) compete out there, but I don't necessarily feel like there's a battle out there to start in the first game.”
But Wednesday, Gundy slightly backed off when asked if injury would be the only thing that would keep Chelf from starting the season opener against Mississippi State.
“We haven't necessarily said anything about the first game of the season,” Gundy said “ … Clint's been the guy that, up to this point, has gone out there and gotten the reps when we started with the 1s. Now, those reps have also been distributed equally.
“There's no question that Clint would be the guy that's the front-runner at this point. I don't see any reason to not mention that. But we haven't established who would be a starter for any particular reason.”
OSU is, of course, in an odd predicament, with Chelf, Walsh and Lunt all starting at least three games and passing for more than 1,000 yards last season.
SPRING FINALE DETAILS REVEALED
OSU will conclude spring football Saturday with its annual spring “finale,” and Gundy said it will look much like the Cowboys' spring games of the past.
The coaching staff will divide both the offense and defense into two teams. The plan is to run about 50-60 plays in a 60-minute scrimmage with some running clock.
Gundy said he expects new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich and new defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer to call plays from the coaches' box.
OSU could be without two offensive linemen Saturday, as senior starter Parker Graham is recovering from an abdominal strain and redshirt freshman Michael Wilson battled illness this spring.
GUNDY HAPPY MARCUS SMART RETURNING
The jubilation that ran through the OSU student union upon the announcement that basketball superstar Marcus Smart will bypass the NBA Draft to return to Stillwater for his sophomore season stretched to the football facility, as Gundy expressed excitement that Smart decided to stay in school for one more year.
“I think it's a great day to be a Cowboy,” Gundy said. “I don't know Marcus real well. Obviously, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he brings to Oklahoma State, and I was hoping that he would come back.
“Again, that's selfish for an Oklahoma State guy, because he's tremendous for our school. Not only as an athlete, but the way he approaches the game and approaches himself and handles himself.”
Gundy certainly knows what these types of difficult stay-or-go decisions are like. And the Cowboys got similar news after the 2010 season, when the quarterback-receiver combo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon elected to return.
That following season, OSU went 12-1, won its first Big 12 championship and beat Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. But Gundy said the reasons for coming back to college stretch beyond potential athletic success.
“He's got another chance to be a normal person for a year and be a college student,” Gundy said, “and that's something you don't ever get back.
“The players that we have here at Oklahoma State that have come back and have gone on to be first-round picks would look back on it and say that they enjoyed that time and appreciated it and, really, are glad that they stayed. So I can't imagine it won't work out terrific for him.”