It has happened before, you know.
Oklahoma suddenly losing its starting quarterback.
Oklahoma having to win with an unproven replacement.
Not only unproven, Jamelle Holieway was a true freshman in 1985.
Holieway was forced into starting at the break of a leg -- Troy Aikman's. Miami broke Troy Boy's stick in a Norman conquest that year, setting in motion a series of events:
- Miami won the game but Holieway came in, fitting in comfortably to direct a true option offense the rest of the year.
- Oklahoma won the remainder of its games and a national championship.
- Aikman eventually transferred to UCLA, then became the No. 1 overall draft choice in 1989.
If only Oklahoma -- and Rhett Bomar -- could be so lucky this time.
It can be argued that OU was in a worse situation back then. At least fifth-year senior Paul Thompson has taken some snaps. Back then, the season already had started.
|Rhett Bomar is in search of a new team. (Getty Images)|
Yeah, things look absolutely rosy in Norman.
Thompson actually started last season but was switched to receiver after Bomar took over. The one-time golden boy's career is all but shot. Someone will likely take a chance on Bomar, but if it is a BCS AQ (automatic qualifier) school, you have my permission to pelt the AD with nasty e-mails.
That's only one piece of fallout that shook the game to its foundations Wednesday. Bomar's exit has implications way beyond Norman.
Texas: Let's get this out of the way early -- the 'Horns are loving it, dancing in the streets, throwing Rhett Bomar masquerade parties. (The best-dressed cheesy used-car salesman slinging around Monopoly money wins).
Poll dancing: With Bomar (and guard J.D. Quinn) gone, Oklahoma would have started in or near the top five. At least one preseason publication had them winning the national championship.
Now? OU is still a top 25 program this year. It still has Adrian Peterson and a solid defense. But take the national championship out of the equation. Whoever replaces Bomar, the offense will have to be altered significantly.
How significantly?: A.P. will still have a fine season but you can likely forget about that 2,200-yard season and the Heisman.
Defenses will stuff the box, not worried at all about Thompson as a thrower (or runner, for that matter). Get ready for a lot of screens, flares and draws. The coaching staff is going to have to rush to retool the offense. The opener is in a month.
Coach Bob Stoops had to replace four offensive line starters to begin with. Quinn, a redshirt sophomore who started four games, wasn't considered a starter and was coming off a shoulder injury.
If Peterson is able to squeeze 1,300 yards out of this mess, more power to him.
BCS bowl: Hang with me here, but the Sooners could still, somehow, squeeze out a Big 12 title.
Throw out the non-conference. Doesn't matter in this conversation. OU will probably go 3-1 against UAB, Washington, Oregon and Middle Tennessee.
That might have been what they would have done with Bomar and Quinn anyway. Forget Texas for the moment (read below). All four Big 12 road games are still winnable: Missouri, Texas A&M, Baylor and Oklahoma State.
That leaves home games against Iowa State, Colorado and Texas Tech. Which leads us to ...
The Longhorns thing: With its starting quarterback returning, Oklahoma was favored to win the Big 12. Without its starting quarterback, Texas wasn't.
Are the teams now even?
Not exactly. Texas has been preparing for this moment since Vince Young declared for the draft. The Longhorns will have to win a different way, by running and playing defense. Aside from quarterback, they are loaded.
"We'll still run the same offense," said Mack Brown, who did add that you won't see many third-and-30s converted anymore.
No, you won't, and neither will Oklahoma.
The first week of October in Dallas is a strange thing. It's a psycho-drama that can't be figured out in August. Remember, OU has won five of the past six.
By Oct. 7, Thompson will have played four games. Brown might still be sorting through Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead.
I'm not in any way predicting an OU win at this point. I just want to be at the Cotton Bowl that day.
What about Paul?: Thompson is limited (11 for 26 last year), but he has been a good soldier. As a fifth-year guy, he has been around since 2001, when Jason White was a sophomore.
The kid was once rated the No. 10 athlete-type coming out of Leander, Texas. He deserves his shot. If Thompson falters, then juco transfer Joey Halzle will get his chance.
If he was named starter today, Halzle would have a month to learn the offense and start beating Big 12 defenses. No big deal.
Wasn't Josh Heupel a juco transfer?
NCAA implications: To be determined. If it's true that up to 24 Oklahoma players were working at Big Red Imports, the school has a lot 'splainin' to do.
How could Stoops not know what was going on? And does OU face future sanctions? Booting two significant players off the team after an internal investigation will help in the NCAA's eyes, but how much?