By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Oklahoma State senior quarterback Clint Chelf was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week Monday and only his teammates and those close to him will know just how much that means to the Enid native.
Chelf earned the honor by racking up 299 yards of offense with four touchdowns — including a 67-yard touchdown run, which was the longest for an OSU quarterback since Brent Blackman had a 72-yard run in 1972 — in OSU’s 52-34 victory at Texas Tech. But nobody knows his thoughts because he has been off limits to the media since reclaiming the starting quarterback role from J.W. Walsh, who had replaced Chelf at quarterback three drives into the season.
While Walsh was OSU’s signal caller, he was made available to the media before and after games. But since Chelf earned back the starting spot after successfully replacing Walsh against Texas Christian University, no quarterback — considered the leader of an offense — has been permitted to speak a word to the media.
During his Sunday teleconference, OSU coach Mike Gundy gave his reasoning as to why the senior quarterback will not be made available to members of the media until after the bowl season — at which point Chelf’s Cowboy career will be over.
“Ever since we have started the year, there has been nothing but media opinion on who should play quarterback,” the OSU coach said. “And there is not really anything they (the quarterbacks) can say about themselves or each other that is productive for the overall chemistry of the team. And me neither.
“There is not really anything I can say about it. So it’s better off just to let them go until the season is over and then let them have an opportunity to communicate with everybody.”
Gundy, who has held a rule that no first-year players in the program are available to the media, set the precedent with his quarterbacks last year. During the up-and-down campaign in which three quarterbacks started for the Cowboys due to injury, Chelf was limited to speaking only after games the final three weeks of the season.
Perhaps it is a way to avoid headaches for his nearly 23-year-old quarterback fielding questions about his rise from the ashes for a second-straight season. But what it has created instead is headaches for other Cowboy players who must answer those questions in his absence — instead of talking about their opponent this week, Kansas.
“Clint’s a great player. He’s been big time since he came back,” Cowboy fullback Jeremy Seaton said. “We’ve definitely started clicking since he came back. ... Since he’s come back we’ve definitely been coming together more as a unit.”
According to his teammates, Chelf isn’t one to get rattled too easily. And he appeared to prove that Saturday against the Red Raiders.
The fifth-year senior shrugged off a pair of interceptions — one returned for a touchdown in the first half — on the road in front of a hostile crowd. The feather in his cap came after his second interception when he made the tackle to prevent the Red Raider defender from going nearly 70 yards for a touchdown.
He responded by leading the Cowboys on a momentum-crushing drive of 75 yards, capped with his second rushing touchdown from eight yards out on a third-and-1 play.
“He’s a great leader back there. He threw two picks and he didn’t ever get stressed out and kept us pushing and said he would make up for it and I feel that he made up for it,” running back Desmond Roland said of Chelf following Saturday’s game.