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Oklahoma State's Transfer Hypocrisy

The NCAA way: millionaire head coaches are free agents, players are indentured servants.

Ronald Martinez

Former Oklahoma State starting QB Wes Lunt, supplanted on the depth chart after an injury-riddled 2012 freshman season by Clint Chelf and JW Walsh, is transferring. Naturally, Lunt - a talented 6-4 QB with NFL physical specs, who finds himself cemented behind two very good college quarterbacks - wants to try his luck elsewhere.

The Cowboys, even without Lunt, still possess excellent options, but Wes Lunt finds himself without many.

That's because Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State won't release Lunt for transfer to any school in the Big 12, SEC, Pac 12, or to Southern Mississippi and Central Michigan.

The Big 12 is on the list for clear reasons of self-interest, even though it's unlikely that Lunt would want to sit out the extra time necessary to make an in-conference transfer an actual reality, but the 26 schools comprising the Pac 12 and SEC are on the list because Lunt potentially shining in the spotlight of adjacent leagues with recruiting grounds overlapping Oklahoma State on local television sets might somehow prove embarrassing. And what about the 1% likelihood that OSU might one day face their 3rd team QB in a future bowl game? The horror!

How insecure can a program - and a head coach - be?

It gets even more petty and destructive with regard to Southern Mississippi. Lunt's former OC Todd Monken is now the head coach there. Monken and Lunt have an existing relationship built on the recruiting trail and a year of QB meetings, the Golden Eagle program is trying to recover from disaster (they were 0-12 in 2012), and it's a natural fit for the young QB to showcase his skills. But thwarting Lunt (and former Gundy lieutenant Monken) seems higher on OSU's priority list than basic decency. A few Cowboy supporters claim this is a righteous retribution for alleged tampering (i.e. Lunt possibly calling Monken and asking,"Hey, interested?" - how dare they!), but people more in touch with the real world understand that most jobs happen from networking or prior relationships. Why this desire for College Athlete Purity Theater while coaches network and flirt more shamelessly behind the backs of their current employers than LinkedIn prostitutes?

Not to insult the honest labor of call girls. Coaches are far more duplicitous.

Gundy is not the first coach to exhibit base self-interest and pettiness in transfer allowances: recently, Randy Edsall screwed Danny O'Brien over at Maryland mostly, it seems, because he could and it felt good to blame his disastrous inaugural 2-10 coaching effort on someone else (in addition to Maryland's 23 other football transfers), and there are other examples of coaches limiting transfer options with a ruthless self-interest that makes you wonder how these people - these selfless boosters of the free market willing to point to football revenues to justify a PE Major making 2-5 million a year, are so quick to deny access - however tiny the potential impact may be on their precious coaching careers - to the student-athletes they blather about caring so much about?

The hypocrisy is staggering. How can they look in their McMansion mirrors without dragging their Mach 3 across their throats?

Every year, multi-millionaire head coaches - the ultimate mercenary free agents, masters of the quick escape - repeat the pre-signing day winter fiction of total commitment to their programs in the modest living rooms of the 18 year old players they court, persuade, and cajole to commit to four or five years to a place the head coach promises to never leave (while his agent is in current negotiations with BetterJobU and their wives scan the real estate market in Better Jobville daily), only to depart weeks later after signing day to greener pastures, more prestige, better money, offering a heartfelt goodbye to their team of beloved student-athletes via text message. Intro press conference: "I'll miss the relationships at StateU, but I had to do what was right for my family. They're what's most important to me. Now, it's on to bigger and better challenges!"

The players, however, lose eligibility with transfers, are potentially subject to a litany of petty demands and forbiddances from the college programs who purport to care so deeply about their social and academic future, all with little respect for the athlete's physical, academic, social, or family's financial well-being. It's the whim of jealous, paranoid fiat. No hometown coddling media will call a coach out publicly in a press conference for their petty tyranny, and because NCAA president Mark Emmert is more concerned with applying foundation powder for mall head shots than any real reform, the practice goes on unchallenged and unchecked save for a smattering of indignant articles.

Of course, Lunt is free to do what he likes. Gundy doesn't actually own him. He just has the same leverage any loan shark has on his mark, minus the broken fingers. He can only break his dreams and break his bank. Without OSU's blessing, Lunt would have to pay his own way the first season on a new campus and couldn't be put on scholarship without release from OSU.

Next time Oklahoma State, Mike Gundy, any head coach that doesn't afford his transfers the same freedom he himself enjoys, or an NCAA that does nothing to enforce common decency on these matters, offers pious intonations about the welfare of "their kids", the precious student-athletes, I hope you'll meet it with the appropriate belly laugh.

If you haven't been already.