Oklahoma was a trendy national-title pick this summer, surging in many experts' preseason polls, and the biggest single reason wasn't the greatness of tailback Adrian Peterson but rather the supposed blossoming of QB Rhett Bomar. The nifty dual-threat signal-caller elevated OU's gifted young receiving corps and complemented Peterson.
Well, you can rip up all of those college preview magazines. Oklahoma dismissed Bomar on Wednesday for allegedly violating NCAA rules by taking "payment over an extended period of time in excess of time actually worked."
Now all bets are off for Oklahoma. And the Sooners' quarterback options are suddenly very limited. The blessing of having such a promising young QB like a Bomar in the program is that a team can grow around him as he matures. The curse of it, though, is that he will scare off a lot of other prospective QBs who figure they have little shot of overtaking an incumbent. Hence, OU's reserve pool is a little shallow right now.
Only two years ago, the Sooners looked stacked at quarterback. They were redshirting the highly-touted Bomar; Paul Thompson, also a dual-threat type who had looked sharp in mop-up duty, was waiting in the wings; and cannon-armed Tommy Grady was available for duty, as well.
However, there is always an attrition factor when you have a bottleneck like that. Grady transferred to Utah, Thompson shifted to wideout and now Bomar gets the boot. I know this may be blasphemy around Norman, but does Utah -- where Grady is in a three-way battle for playing time -- currently have three better quaterbacks than any of OU's options?
My hunch is that Bob Stoops will move Thompson back to quarterback. Given his experience under center in the program, Stoops almost has to. I remember former OU quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Chuck Long raving about Thompson's makeup a few years back and, quite frankly, I think Thompson could be more helpful under center than being just another good receiver. His career passing numbers aren't great (42-of-73 for 428 yards with four TDs and three INTs), but he has to be considered an option because this officially qualifies as a catastrophic situation in Norman.
Joey Halzle, the JC transfer who was listed at No. 2 on the depth chart, was dreadful in OU's spring game, going 8-for-21 with three picks. He also has no experience in the Big 12. But Halzle won't give up the position easily. Keep in mind this was the guy who had the Oaks Christian QB job when prodigy Jimmy Clausen was a freshman there. At the end of his prep career, Halzle had to share a bit of the spotlight.
His team last season, Golden West CC, was terrible, going 1-9. I chatted with a former NFL quarterback who has seen a lot of Halzle in JC ball. He thinks Halzle moves pretty well and has a good arm but needs to make decisions a lot quicker. Then again, the guy didn't have much to work with -- and that won't be the case at OU.
Another possibility is freshman Sam Bradford, a newcomer to big-time college football.
Neither Halzle nor Bradford is anywhere near as fleet-footed as Bomar, and Sooners offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was planning to employ a lot of roll-outs to take advantage of his quarterback's wheels. This is another reason why I suspect Thompson will ultimately get the starting job.
Bruce Feldman is a senior writer with ESPN The Magazine.