Thurman Thomas is OK with a freshman QB

Berry Tramel: After seeing Mike Gundy succeed while they were OSU teammates, former Cowboy running back hopes Wes Lunt will come through this season.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 20, 2012
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photo - Former star Thurman Thomas on the sidelines during the college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) Cowboys and Missouri State University (MSU) Bears at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. Saturday September 2, 2006. BY MATT STRASEN, THE OKLAHOMAN. ORG XMIT: KOD
Former star Thurman Thomas on the sidelines during the college football game between Oklahoma State University (OSU) Cowboys and Missouri State University (MSU) Bears at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla. Saturday September 2, 2006. BY MATT STRASEN, THE OKLAHOMAN. ORG XMIT: KOD

Thurman Thomas wasn't crazy about his football team being handed over to a true freshman quarterback.

For one thing, Ronnie Williams, the displaced veteran, was his roommate.

“Tough situation,” said Thomas, who was in the middle of building the best tailback career in OSU history. “Not only for myself, but the team.”

But Pat Jones had seen enough of Mike Gundy in practice, and not seen enough out of Williams through three games of 1986, despite having quarterbacked the '85 Cowboys to the Gator Bowl and having made 11 straight starts.

Compared to that decision — benching a popular veteran, going with an 18-year-old who had been on campus barely a month — Gundy's decision 26 years later to go with true freshman Wes Lunt seems downright conventional.

“Yeah, a lot of players were upset,” Thomas said the other day. “Lot of older players didn't know what kind of player Mike Gundy would be.”

Soon enough, the Cowboys learned. Gundy would be fine. Just fine. Growing pains that 1986 season but solid by 1987, a star by 1988 and the Big Eight's career passing leader by 1989.

“Things happen for a reason,” Thomas said. “Gundy turned out to be one of the best.

“But it was a tough deal, no question about it. We really didn't know too much about Mike Gundy.

“We knew he was from Oklahoma. Had a very successful high school career. Being in Oklahoma (Midwest City), you heard stories about him.”

The 2012 Cowboys should know Lunt much better. He arrived on campus in January from small-town Illinois and went through spring practice. He beat out not an incumbent, but two guys (J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf) who had either never played or barely played.

So the political landscape should be smoother for Lunt than it was for Gundy 26 years ago. The football adjustment will be as severe, though.

Young quarterbacks are better prepared these days than they were a generation ago, but they also face much more sophisticated defenses while running much more complicated offenses.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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