Wickline Lawsuit Motivates Which Side?

The first battle between former Oklahoma State offensive line coach and current Texas offensive line coach holding the title of offensive coordinator Joe Wickline and his former school will not be in a Payne County courtroom but instead on the same field where Wickline coached pupils like Charlie Johnson, Russell Okung, Lane Taylor and Andrew Lewis.

Wickline versus Oklahoma State, Wickline versus Oklahoma State athletics director Mike Holder, and even Wickline versus Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy. All of those dynamics are in play Saturday.

Ironically, early this week Wickline had two attorneys from Ponca City file a motion to have Oklahoma State's suit dismissed and also filed for a change of venue claiming he could not get a fair trial in Payne County due to the power Oklahoma State would have at that venue. Wickline's motion suggests a change to Travis County in Texas or the Western District Federal Court in Oklahoma City.

OSU fans learned to trust Wickline could formulate a working offensive line out of just about any five players. "In Wick we trust" became a popular line for fans. Now some fans blame Wickline for leaving behind a group of offensive linemen that maybe only he could have forged into a workable and productive unit.

Former OSU offensive linemen are fighting over whether Wickline was the great coach and offensive line whisperer he was credited with being or whether he was an overbearing and overzealous coach that tore players down rather than building them up. Frankly, it is very difficult to argue with his results while at Oklahoma State.

As for his return and the lawsuits that stretch each direction over his Oklahoma State contract that said for any job other than an offensive coordinator position with play-calling duties at a Division I school or an NFL coaching job then he owed Oklahoma State a roughly $600,000 buyout, his new boss Texas head coach Charlie Strong says that won't be added motivation, any motivation for the Longhorns.

"That hasn't become an issue, and number one, it is not going to be brought up. That is not a concern of theirs," Strong said in referencing the Texas players. "Their concern is playing Oklahoma State. It has nothing to do with how we are going to play and where our focus is going to be."

The focus needs to be on generating more offense. Texas has had its two most productive rushing games the last two weeks in wins over Texas Tech and West Virginia. Passing is another story completely as quarterback Tyrone Swoopes completed just 11-of-29 passing with one interception and one touchdown and 124 yards last week. In fact, Swoopes has not completed more than 13 passes in the past three games. He's regressing while Texas is winning.

"With Tyrone (Swoopes) it is going to be a week by week thing and he has to get better," Strong theorized. "That's why I say it is so important that everybody around him play so well. The way we are running the football right now is taking a lot of pressure off of him. If we had to put it on his shoulders I don't know where we would be. That is why it is so important for everybody on that offense to play well."

As stated earlier, the man on the hot seat in Wickline has the Texas offensive line seemingly improving with that improved running game that put up 224 yards in the 33-16 win over West Virginia.

"It is combination and coach Wickline is doing a lot of good and also the players," Strong said when asked about Wickline's coaching. "Like I say every week, we are squeezing every ounce out of those players. Those players are developing a bond and when they form that they understand how focused and how tight they have to be for everyone to trust them, and now those running backs trust them to get people out of the way and form a seam for them to run."

You can be sure Wickline is coaching them hard this week. Strong said it won't be a focus for the team, but I can guarantee you that it will be a focus for Wickline. After all, he is a former professional wrestler and we all know they can't resist a grudge match on the mat, in the courtroom or, for Wickline, especially on the football field.

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