STILLWATER — Tony Lindsay sparked Oklahoma State's run to the Alamo Bowl as a freshman in 1997, leading the Cowboys to their first winning season and bowl appearance in nine years.
For his work, Lindsay was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
So with Lindsay back at quarterback and plenty of other talent around him, optimism only amplified for 1998.
Except Cowboys coach Bob Simmons kept toying with a two-quarterback system, committing time to Chris Chaloupka.
OSU finished 5-6 in 1998. And the quarterback platoon, which seemed unfounded, contributed not only to the regression of the season, but also to Simmons' stock overall.
One game — the Cowboys' 24-17 loss at Texas Tech — stuck out as the case against a platoon and the start of internal unrest in the program, eventually playing a part in Simmons' firing following the 2000 season.
While Lindsay and Chaloupka had battled for the job in 1997, and both contributed to OSU's 8-4 finish that found the Cowboys ranked No. 24 in the final Associated Press poll, Lindsay clearly emerged as the No. 1 quarterback.
Yet Simmons continued to play Chaloupka. Not regularly, but randomly.
Like at Tech.
That day in Lubbock, Lindsay led the Cowboys on two scoring drives for a 10-0 lead through one quarter, while the Red Raiders had been scuffling, managing minus-2 yards in offense.
Bring on controversy.
Chaloupka played the first two series of the second quarter, with the Cowboys netting 11 yards and no first downs. From that point on, OSU sputtered on offense and the Red Raiders rallied. Chaloupka did lead a touchdown drive in the final minute, yet it was little, and late.
“I thought we were doing great and moving down the field,” Lindsay said after the game. “I have no say about the quarterback switch. That's coach Simmons' decision and he went with it.”
A good decision?
“I don't know,” Lindsay said. “You'd have to ask coach Simmons.”
Said Simmons: “I had planned on playing Chris anyhow. Tony did some good things, but right now Tony's not having any fun and Chris deserves to play. I told him that he was going to play in this ballgame, so that's why he played.”
Chaloupka hadn't played in the previous two games, a win over No. 25 Mississippi State and a close loss to Nebraska in Kansas City. The Cowboys were up and down the remainder of the season, going 3-3 amid an undercurrent of dissension.