Friday, December 7, 2012
Who will transform the bowls: Big 12
By David Ubben
Oklahoma State is angry, and deservedly so. It also spent the last week sweating, wondering if its coach was bluffing in a high-stakes poker game or if he'd really lay down a hand that read, "Thanks for everything, but I'm going to Tennessee (or Arkansas)."
The Pokes were relegated to the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is back in the Big 12 bowl rotation after a year away and a name change from the TicketCity Bowl. The fans aren't excited about it. Maybe the team is.
Either way, the Pokes will show up in a big way and transform into a team that's ready for a Big 12 title run in 2013. They'll easily dispose of Purdue and look masterful in doing so, showcasing a balance with Clint Chelf through the air and Joseph Randle on the ground.
Maybe Randle goes pro and his career as a Cowboy is over after Jan. 1.
Maybe this is the last start of Chelf's career. There's a quarterback competition slated for the spring.
Still, has Oklahoma State not obviously shown over the past few years that it can easily replace departed pieces? That's where Mike Gundy's program is right now, and that's where it's going to stay in the foreseeable future. If that happens, you'll probably get to know Desmond Roland very well next year, along with Jeremy Smith, who plenty of folks who don't wear orange already know about. Wes Lunt may take over, but he should be better in 2013 after a promising but frustrating true freshman campaign plagued by interceptions and injuries.
Oklahoma State had to sweat out its coach. It fell to the lowest bowl with Big 12 ties when a BCS bid was very much within reach only a week earlier with an 11-point lead in the second half on its biggest rival's home field.
That won't matter next fall. The Pokes will have won just eight games in 2012, the first season in Gundy's eight-year tenure at Oklahoma State that he didn't equal or surpass his win total the previous season.
Next year, when OSU is back contending for a Big 12 title like it did in 2010 and 2011, the lessons learned during this rebuilding year will come in handy.