Carlson column: What would you do?

Reid is still the most talented signal-caller, but attitude is reason for change

By Jenni Carlson
Daily Oklahoman
Published: September 22, 2007
STILLWATER — Bobby Reid stood near the team charters last Friday night, using his cell phone, eating his boxed meal.It would’ve been normal post-game activity but for one thing.His mother was feeding him chicken.

Which brings us to the quarterback switch-a-roo at Oklahoma State.

Don’t see the connection?

Let me explain. Cowboy coaches have gone full-speed ahead with the Zac Attack, opting to start Robinson over Reid a week ago, then sticking with him against Texas Tech today even after an embarrassing loss at Troy. Weren’t we being told just last week that Reid was still the guy? All the weight with which Cowboy coaches were backing Reid has totally shifted to Robinson.

The change seems sudden.

Thing is, it may not be as abrupt as it looks. If you believe the rumors and the rumblings, Reid has been pushing coaches that way for quite some time.

Tile up the back stories told on the sly over the past few years, and you see a pattern that hasn’t always been pretty.

Word is that Reid has considered transferring a couple different times, the first as early as 2005. Reid, then a redshirt freshman, was facing competition from returner Donovan Woods, and apparently, Reid considered leaving OSU just because he had to compete for the spot.

Reid’s nerves have also been an issue. Earlier this year, he told our Andrea Cohen about his game-day emotions.

“I get sweaty palms. I get the butterflies in my stomach. I sweat lot,” he said then. “I’ve been playing this game for 15 years. And I can honestly say every game I’ve played in, I’ve been nervous. It’s not so much me being scared; I just get to a point where I start worrying about a lot of things I can’t control.”

A lot of guys get nervous, some even puke before games. How you handle the nerves is important, though, and Reid hasn’t always managed them well. He has gotten off to some extremely slow starts, putting the Cowboys in some holes. Some, they dug out of, with Reid often wielding the biggest shovel, and some, they couldn’t.

Then, there have been the injuries. No doubt some of Reid’s ailments have been severe, including an injured shoulder that required surgery and forced him to redshirt. Other times, though, Reid has been nicked in games and sat it out instead of gutting it out.

Injuries are tricky, of course. You don’t want a guy to put himself in harm’s way if he’s really hurt, and yet, football is one of those sports in which everyone plays hurt. Aches and pains, bumps and bruises are part of the gig.

Reid’s injury against Florida Atlantic — whatever it was — appeared minor but just might have been the thing that pushed Cowboy coaches over the edge. Even though Mike Gundy said last week that Robinson got the nod because he had the better week of practice, insiders say that the coaches decided to bench Reid early in the week. The bottom line: The switch is less about Robinson’s play and more about Reid’s attitude.

“The coaches made a decision,” Reid told our Mike Baldwin after the Troy game. “I just have to go with it, get better and get back on the field.”

There’s something to be said for not being a malcontent, but you can almost see Reid shrugging his shoulders as he says those words. Does he have the fire in his belly?

Or does he want to be coddled, babied, perhaps even fed chicken?

That scene in the parking lot last week had no bearing on the Cowboys changing quarterbacks, and yet, it said so much about Reid. A 21-year-old letting his mother feed him in public? Most college kids, much less college football players, would just as soon be seen running naked across campus.

And what of the scene television cameras captured earlier that evening of Reid on the sidelines laughing with assistant strength coach Trumain Carroll? The same cameras showed him throwing his cap in disgust after a missed play earlier, but to be laughing in the final minutes of an embarrassing loss is bad form.

Reid is the most talented quarterback in Payne County, but he hasn’t proven that he’s the toughest. If you listen to the rumblings and the rumors, Cowboy coaches simply grew weary of it.

Who knows? There might come a day when they grow tired of something Robinson does, but for now, they appear willing to sacrifice a bit of talent for a lot of grit.

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