NORMAN — Bully for Bob.
It couldn’t have been easy, but it must have been apparent, and that’s probably the first thing the entirety of the Sooner Nation might want to think about today.
Whether they’re excited about Trevor Knight being named Oklahoma’s next starting quarterback, because who doesn’t want a four-year starter as long as he earns his keep throughout, or depressed for Blake Bell, thinking of all the jams he got Landry Jones out of on third-and-2 and fourth-and-1 the last two seasons, they have to know Knight got there honestly.
Because there can be no doubt that a tie went to Blake Bell. There can be no doubt that, even if the decision was easy, it had to be hard to announce. And there can be no doubt that the pressure is really on.
Think about it.
Young team. A defense that couldn’t stop a strong offense last season and isn’t returning a whole lot, and an offense that includes Jalen Saunders and not one other worldbeater so far as we know (even if the sports editor of this newspaper thinks Roy Finch might have an out-of-nowhere season in him) … and Bob Stoops goes out on a limb with a redshirt freshman quarterback?
At once, it’s a change of course from past battles, when previous QB contests always delivered the old guy over the young guy in time for the season opener.
Yet, at the same time, it’s not that unusual. Other redshirt freshman quarterbacks at OU have included Rhett Bomar, who started every game but the season opener in 2005, Sam Bradford, and we know how that went, and Landry Jones, and we know how that went (like a Rorschach test, the Sooner Nation edition).
Along with the announcement came a pretty boilerplate quote from Stoops, who said both Knight and Bell would be ready to play against Louisiana-Monroe a week from Saturday because, “like every position on our team, I expect them both to continue competing for the starting job.”
Funny, he didn’t say anything like that after last year’s Kansas State loss when Bell might have had a case to get a shot in front of Jones, but I guess that’s in the past.
Back to the future, the last takeaway from the most interesting decision of the Stoops era in a good long time is the microscope both he and Knight will be under going forward.
On the one hand, the man’s job is safe, so who really cares? On the other, every single game in which Knight plays in front of Bell will be a referendum on the decision.
Also, Knight has to know all of his mistakes will be dissected like a dead frog in biology class, not to mention the fact that Bell has more tenure, leaving the No. 1 constituency Knight must keep on his side his very teammates.
Think about it long enough and there are too many angles to count.
A coach out on a limb, a player under pressure, a program that’s rebuilding led by a redshirt freshman, a changing offense directed by a rookie, not to mention the plain and simple fact that the daily grind of Sooner football hardly ever delivers a real-life surprise and this is a doozy.
Every single one of these angles Stoops will try to deflect. He doesn’t care for angles, storylines, subplots or surprises.
But guess what?
He pulled the trigger.
The choice must have been clear. Like the difference between Knight and … well, you know, Bell.
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