The Bedlam rivalry is one of the fiercest in the country, but the two programs — or at least their coaches — might have more in common than they think.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops told a group at an Oklahoma caravan in Plano, Texas on Wednesday evening that he supported the decision by Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy to restrict former quarterback Wes Lunt’s transfer.
Gundy came under fire after restricting Lunt, his opening day starter last season, from transferring anywhere in the Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and Central Michigan, whom the Cowboys play in 2015, and Southern Miss where former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken is the head coach, and receiving a scholarship for at least a year.
That didn’t leave Lunt a lot of options unless he wanted to pay for a year of school or go to a junior college and be ready to play for whomever he wants in 2014.
"I support every coach and I support Mike Gundy in every way if they have their issues because all situations are different. I mean that sincerely. Mike’s doing the right thing in his case," Stoops said. "A guy says, 'I’m coming to you' and you get a running back, and then all of a sudden you don’t have a running back. He leaves. That doesn’t leave your program in a great spot, right? So, I’m totally in agreement."
While Stoops might agree with Gundy’s decision to limit Lunt’s transfer options, it’s not a practice he actually preaches. In fact, Stoops allowed running back Brandon Williams to transfer from his program to Texas A&M. No restrictions imposed.
Gundy’s decision started a firestorm about student-athlete rights and why coaches were allowed to leave without restrictions and players were not. Gundy himself flirted with leaving the Cowboys for Tennessee or Arkansas, which would have left a lot of players who came to Oklahoma State to play for Gundy and his staff in a bind. Yet, there were no limitations imposed on him.
It’s hypocrisy in its highest form and Stoops, who has been quite outspoken this offseason about his feelings to student-athlete equality, doesn’t seem to care.
"Nobody made them sign with me. I didn’t force them to, it was what they wanted to do,” Stoops said. “And because we’re limited in what we’re allowed per scholarship, it’s the right thing to have consequences, otherwise you’d have kids changing their mind every year. It’s not right.
"It isn’t right that they can just do what they want to do. It isn’t good. I don’t believe in it."
But it’s OK for coaches not to honor their commitments?
Again, this is an age-old debate that has divided college football and turned coaches into bad guys. Of course, not every coach takes Gundy’s approach to transfers, but we have seen some programs at least be fair. A couple days ago, Notre Dame allowed Eddie Vanderdoes to transfer to UCLA, a school that was recruiting him initially, though he does have to sit out a year. Vanderdoes, who is from California, cited family issues as his reason for transfer. On the flip side, Florida State won’t release Matthew Thomas, who claims his mother forced him to sign with the Seminoles.
Lunt played in five games for the Cowboys before injuries forced him out of his starting role. Other players stepped in and Lunt saw the writing on the wall. He just wanted to go to a program where he could start again.
The stance by Gundy and the support by Stoops is certainly going to make recruiting interesting for both programs. Any player who has even a shred of doubt as to whether they want to really commit to either of those schools should probably hold out before they tie their next four years to either institution.
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