STILLWATER — When Brandon Weeden quarterbacked the Cowboys, Mike Gundy had no problem letting the 28-year-old answer any and every question the media had to offer.
How times have changed.
Since Weeden’s departure to the NFL, the quarterback carousel at Oklahoma State has often been shrouded in mystery. Multiple races for the starting job over the past few seasons have been kept under lock and key, as Gundy has made his quarterbacks almost entirely off limits to the media.
This offseason likely marks the second-straight year the Cowboys head into an opener without reporters or fans knowing the clear-cut starter. It’s a gamesmanship strategy Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh know all too well.
The last quarterback Gundy firmly announced as his guy before week one? The true freshman Wes Lunt.
On April 26, 2012, the athletic department released this statement from Gundy:
“There's always a comment about who coaches are going to name as the starter at any position, but the coaches usually don't make that decision — the decision is made by the players. Wes performed better than the other two quarterbacks in the spring."
So take Gundy’s 2012 logic and apply it to a hypothetical: Had Lunt not transferred to Illinois, would he be announced the starter for the Cowboys in 2014?
The immediate knee-jerk reaction might be a resounding “yes.” And there’s evidence to back that up.
Lunt is a 6-foot-5, 225-pounder with a proven arm. Remember the 436 passing yards he put up against Arizona in his first road start? There was a lot to like.
And then suddenly, after just five starts through one season, Lunt was gone.
Then offensive coordinator Todd Monken moved on to coach Southern Miss. An injury-riddled season kept Lunt from being considered the clear choice to start his sophomore campaign, as Chelf impressed late in the year.
Questions arose about his long-term durability, and that didn’t help his chances of being the offensive centerpiece down the road. But Lunt was talented. He undoubtedly wanted to start.
Oh, the irony.
As Lunt gears up for his first eligible season in Big 10 country after sitting out last year, he’s likely in the exact situation he wanted to avoid as a Cowboy: a quarterback battle.
Just like at OSU, there are three quarterbacks vying for the number-one spot on Illinois’ depth chart: Lunt, senior Reilly O’Toole and sophomore Aaron Bailey.
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