By Clay Horning
CNHI News Service
NORMAN — Late Tuesday afternoon, at least, was predictable. Of course Bob Stoops shot the story down.
Monday night, KFOR became the first media outlet to report Trevor Knight had won the Sooner quarterback race. Tuesday afternoon, KWTV followed suit. Also, Tuesday afternoon, Stoops denied any such decision has been made.
But you want to know what’s not predictable — you know, other than the idea itself of a redshirt freshman supplanting a fourth-year junior everybody thought would be the next Sooner quarterback?
What’s not predictable, if it’s true, is what happens next.
Will an announcement be forthcoming? If an announcement is forthcoming, will it even be in line with the actual decision?
It’s not crazy to think otherwise. Indeed, the last time a QB race was so tight it was a train wreck wrapped inside a fiasco.
That was 2005, when it was redshirt freshman Rhett Bomar and fourth-year junior Paul Thompson plotting for the position.
Thompson got the start against TCU, a contest that remains one of two season-opening losses of the Stoops era. Thompson even got to bask in the glow of the announcement he would be OU’s next starting quarterback. Only he never won the job. Bomar did.
Reread that paragraph if it sounds wrong, but it’s exactly what happened the year after Jason White’s visa finally ran out after six years on campus and two fantastic seasons that continue to support the best case for finest Sooner quarterback.
The Horned Frogs beat the Sooners 17-10 in that season opener and OU played both its quarterbacks, with neither gaining an upper hand. Thompson directed the only touchdown drive but committed two turnovers. In 11 snaps, Bomar managed to commit one turnover.
Only, forever after, Bomar was the guy. Even after he was far worse than Thompson ever was against TCU 14 days later against UCLA inside the Rose Bowl.
It was the craziest thing. After five games, the Sooners were 2-3, but Thompson wasn’t offered another chance behind center until he was asked to rescue the program a year later when Bomar was kicked off the team for receiving pay for hours never worked at a Norman auto dealership.
Oh, by the way, Thompson remains the only one-year Sooner quarterback to win a Big 12 championship.
Anyway, it was a clinic in how not to handle a quarterback race.
If Knight’s the guy, announce it, mean it, get it over with and move on.
Maybe Bell, now in his fourth year on campus, bolts for one good year somewhere else. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe it’s really better if he does.
Still, it doesn’t matter.
Handle it right this time.
And, really, whatever you do, don’t insult Bell, not to mention the memory of Paul Thompson all over again, by starting Bell, bringing Knight into the game, never really announcing what the heck is going on, yet nonetheless banishing Bell to the bench forever after.
If Knight’s the guy, run with it.
Sure, it’s a shocker, but maybe not that crazy. If Knight’s been better through spring and preseason drills, who wouldn’t want a potential four-year starter, especially one that begins amidst transition and upheaval already.
And maybe we should have known. When offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was asked to explain the case Knight was making for the position back on media day, he positively gushed. That was the first time the Sooner Nation should have began to take its quarterback race seriously.
So, here we are.
If it’s all true, we’ve been here before, the kid being chosen over the veteran.
It’s just fine if that kind of history repeats. What’s not fine is the handling of it being another abomination.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get the season going on the right track?