Tramel's ScissorTales: Mike Gundy, Charles Thompson & Quinn Grovey on one All-State team

Berry Tramel

They don’t make All-State football games like they once did. 

The best players rarely play. They’re already on college campuses. 

But there was a time, let me tell you, there was a time. In 1986, the West squad in the All-State Game had a bunch of great quarterbacks. Norman’s Paul Behrman played defensive back in the game and did the same at the University of Texas. But three West quarterbacks stayed at that position. 

Quinn Grovey. Charles Thompson. Mike Gundy. 

Grovey led Duncan to two Class 4A state championships. He went to Arkansas, became one of the Razorbacks’ greatest quarterbacks ever, led the Hogs to two Southwest Conference championships and now is part of Arkansas football’s radio broadcasts. 

Thompson led Lawton to the Class 5A state semifinals in 1985, went to OU and quarterbacked the Sooners to the 1987 national championship game, including a 17-7 victory over Nebraska in Game of the Century II, before a federal drug conviction derailed his Sooner career. 

Gundy led Midwest City to the 1985 Class 5A state title, went to OSU and became the Big Eight Conference’s all-time leading passer. Gundy now is the OSU head coach

And Saturday in Austin, Texas, the 12th-ranked Cowboys play the Longhorns, quarterbacked by Casey Thompson. Son of Charles. 

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In this 1984 file photo: Aptly nicknamed the Bombers, Midwest City boasts the state's leading pass receiver in Larry Davis (left), who has 16 catches for 229 yards, and one of the state's percentage passing leaders in quarterback Mike Gundy, 24 completions in 39 attempts.

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So Gundy, who tried to recruit Casey to OSU, and the Thompsons go back a long way. 

“We didn’t do all the travel sports like we do now,” Gundy said this week of his history with Charles Thompson. “When we played football and baseball as little kids, we didn’t get out of the Oklahoma City area much. I didn’t really cross paths with him until the ninth and 10th grade. Then we knew each other.” 

Thompson’s Lawton team lost to Muskogee in the 1985 5A state semifinals. Gundy’s Midwest City Bombers beat Muskogee 40-36 in one of the most memorable state-championship games in Oklahoma history. 

Then in late July, Gundy, Thompson and Grovey convened in Tulsa for the greatest collection of quarterback talent in All-State history. 

“Wow,” said Mack Butler, who coached on the East side in that All-State Game and eventually worked at OSU for both Les Miles and Gundy. “Pretty talented. 

“You’ve got Charles and Quinn, both pretty similar. Mike, he was ahead of a lot of high school quarterbacks. Ron Smith was his (Midwest City) quarterback coach, and he was already aware of being able to read coverages and where to go with the ball. 

“We were at a disadvantage.” 

And Gundy was at an advantage in that game, since his Midwest City head coach, Dick Evans, coached the West in that game. 

Gundy quarterbacked most of the game, won 27-0 by the West. Gundy threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Artie Guess and – get this – kicked three extra points and two field goals, of 40 and 30 yards.  

What a time. 

Gundy reminisced this week about the recruitment of all three great quarterbacks. 

“OU wanted all three quarterbacks,” Gundy said. “They wanted me late. They decided they wanted me in January, which I didn’t know how recruiting was, so I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.

“But they had gone after Quinn and CT (Thompson) way way before, which makes sense,” since both were option quarterbacks and the Sooners had just won the national championship running the wishbone. 

“I think Arkansas wanted the two of them,” Gundy said. “Arkansas never recruited me, I don’t think. OSU obviously went after all three of ‘em. So it was a pretty interesting year.” 

Interesting year. Interesting All-State Game. Interesting career paths. Interesting OSU-Texas game Saturday in Austin, where another Gundy/Thompson meeting occurs. 

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College football predictions & Big 12 tiebreakers 

OSU plays at Texas on Saturday, and it’s too early to declare the Cowboys and Longhorns among the top tier of Big 12 teams. But it certainly seems possible. 

Iowa State is a major disappointment. Kansas State has lost to OU and OSU. Baylor has lost to OSU. 

OSU and Texas appear to be the chief challengers to OU’s string of six straight Big 12 championships. The Longhorns lost 55-48 to the Sooners last week. OSU hosts OU on Nov. 27. 

So if the Cowboys beat Texas, OSU has a major advantage. Iowa State still will have a say – especially if it beats K-State on Saturday – but a Bedlam Big 12 title game is the most likely result, should the Cowboys win in Austin. 

But if Texas beats OSU, it becomes a horse race. And a three-way tie for first place is possible. 

If Texas beats OSU, OSU upsets OU and the three teams win the rest of their games, there will be a three-way tie at 8-1. 

Texas would have beaten OSU, OSU would have beaten OU and OU would have beaten Texas. 

And that means the tiebreaker would be point differential in the games between the teams involved. 

OU beat Texas by seven, so that’s the first relevant score.  

It’s in Texas’ best interest to not only beat OSU, but beat the Cowboys by as much as possible. Same with OSU vs. OU, if the scenario holds. 

Point differential is not a great way to break ties, but I don’t know of a better way. In the old Bowl Championship Series days, the Big 12 would use the BCS rankings to break ties – and did, in 2008 and 2010. 

But the BCS rankings came out each Sunday morning down the stretch of the season.  

With the BCS gone, replaced by the four-team College Football Playoff, the playoff rankings aren’t released until Tuesday nights each week, except for the final release, which comes out late Sunday morning. 

It’s not practical for the Big 12 to wait until Tuesday night to find out its participants in the championship game. And using other criteria – like overall record – could just prompt teams to schedule lightly. Which nobody wants. 

So point differential it is. 

In all likelihood, it won’t be necessary. For OU, OSU and Texas to sweep all seven other Big 12 teams is quite unlikely. And for OSU to lose to Texas, then beat OU, is against the odds also. 

But if it all happens, point differential checks in. So run up the score. 

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Texas Christian at Oklahoma: Sooners 44-20. The first five years of the Horned Frogs in the Big 12, this game went down to the wire, with TCU winning 37-33 in 2014. But the Sooners have won by blowout four of the last five years. 

Oklahoma State at Texas: Longhorns 28-27. This game usually is a thriller – Texas has won two straight, 41-34 in overtime and 36-30; before that, OSU won 38-35 and 13-10. 

Iowa State at Kansas State: Wildcats 27-26. Upset special. Everyone still sees the Cyclones as potent, but until Iowa State beats someone of substance, I’m off the bandwagon. 

Brigham Young at Baylor: Bears 23-20. Early preview of BYU in the Big 12. This would have been a robust game had the Cougars beaten Boise State last week. 

Texas Tech at Kansas: Red Raiders 38-30. KU beat Tech the last time the Red Raiders came to Lawrence. 

Kentucky at Georgia: Bulldogs 41-7. The Wildcats have beaten Georgia just thrice since 1990 and have combined to score just three points the last two years. 

Auburn at Arkansas: Tigers 24-23. Be careful, Auburn. Lose this game, and Auburn fans will start wondering why the Razorbacks hired Sam Pittman and the Tigers hired Bryan Harsin. 

Alabama at Mississippi State: Crimson Tide 49-18. Sorry, Mike Leach. You drew the short straw and get Alabama coming off a loss. 

Florida at Louisiana State: Gators 35-23. LSU is a mess; lose this game, and the Tigers could be all alone in the Southeastern Conference West. 

Texas A&M at Missouri: Aggies 31-20. It would be natural for A&M to look past Mizzou, coming off a victory over Alabama, but Missouri is not stout enough to trouble the Ags. 

Ole Miss at Tennessee: Rebels 45-40. Josh Heupel is a hit so far in Knoxville. The Volunteer fans were worried if they’d win a game in the SEC, but now Tennessee is 4-2 overall with a chance at several more victories. 

Vanderbilt at South Carolina: Gamecocks 28-9. The two worst teams in the SEC. 

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South Carolina Head Coach Shane Beamer during the NCAA college football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the South Carolina Gamecocks in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

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Nebraska at Minnesota: Cornhuskers 25-14. Nebraska is oh, so close to a great season. But the 3-4 Cornhuskers have lost 23-16 at OU, 23-20 at Michigan State and 32-29 at home to Michigan. All are undefeated. 

Army at Wisconsin: Cadets 21-20. Upset special. The Black Knights are tough when they come up against an OU or a Michigan, and unlike those powers, the Badgers aren’t explosive enough to create separation. 

Purdue at Iowa: Hawkeyes 27-10. The androids of college football. Iowa is robotic, playing the same virtually every week. 

Michigan State at Indiana: Spartans 26-14. The Hoosiers’ quarterback situation is up in the air. Will the injured Michael Penix Jr. return? If so, Indiana’s upset bid is enhanced.

Rutgers at Northwestern: Scarlet Knights 22-14. The Wildcats will be hard-pressed to win a Big Ten game, if they don’t beat Rutgers. 

Arizona State at Utah: Utes 30-28. The only two unbeatens left in Pac-12 play. The winner has the inside track for the South Division title.  

UCLA at Washington: Huskies 30-20. UW ranks among the nation’s most disappointing teams, with losses to Montana and Oregon State. UCLA at least has lost to more respectable foes Fresno State and Arizona State. 

Stanford at Washington State: Cardinal 30-24. The 3-3 Cougars have won two straight under goofy coach Nick Rolovich. 

California at Oregon: Ducks 44-17. Oregon still is in strong position to reach the College Football Playoff. A relatively easy schedule, and that victory over Ohio State. A 12-1 Oregon will be hard to keep out. 

Arizona at Colorado: Buffaloes 18-17. The Pac-12's two worst teams – and the challengers to Vanderbilt and Kansas as the worst in a Power 5 conference. 

Pittsburgh at Virginia Tech: Panthers 31-24. Pittsburgh has one of the nation’s most prolific offenses and might be the favorite to win the Atlantic Coast Conference. 

Clemson at Syracuse: Tigers 26-21. Is this the week Clemson’s offense blooms? The Tigers are averaging 14 points a game against Division I-A opponents. 

Miami at North Carolina: Tar Heels 27-24. Two disappointing quarterbacks. Miami’s D’Eriq King is lost for the season due to injury; UNC’s Sam Howell has lost all Heisman Trophy consideration. 

Duke at Virginia: Cavaliers 41-14. Virginia is 2-2 in the ACC and not out of the Coastal Division race, but the Cavs probably can afford no more losses. 

North Carolina State at Boston College: Wolfpack 32-21. N.C. State is 1-0 in the ACC Atlantic, but Wake Forest is 4-0. 

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Tulsa at South Florida: Golden Hurricane 26-17. TU looked good in beating Memphis to stabilize a 1-4 start. 

Central Florida at Cincinnati: Bearcats 34-24. This looked like a major challenge when the season began, but Gus Malzahn’s UCF team has struggled with quarterback Dillon Gabriel injured. 

Navy at Memphis: Midshipmen 28-25. Memphis is a strange team. Beat Mississippi State, lost to Temple and Tulsa.  

Air Force at Boise State: Broncos 27-21. Air Force has lost four straight to Boise State, all by double digits. 

Fresno State at Wyoming: Bulldogs 31-30. Fresno State figures to challenge San Diego State and Nevada for the Mountain West’s West Division title, but the ‘Dogs can’t afford another slip.  

San Diego State at San Jose State: Aztecs 27-7. We keep forgetting about San Diego State as a potential unbeaten, though the Aztecs would have no chance at a College Football Playoff berth.  

Hawaii at Nevada: Wolf Pack 34-14. Nevada and San Diego State are the lone conference unbeatens in the Mountain West’s West.

Colorado State at New Mexico: Rams 25-21. Strange team, Colorado State. The 2-3 Rams lost to South Dakota State and Vanderbilt but played Iowa tough. CSU is the only team unbeaten in conference play among the Mountain West’s Mountain Division. 

Utah State at Nevada-Las Vegas: Aggies 34-22. UNLV is one of three winless teams left in major-college football, joining Arizona and Connecticut.  

Last week: 27-10. Season: 259-75. 

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Conference USA seeks cooperational realignment

Realignment of mid-major conferences has the support of at least one league. But more is needed. 

CBS Sports reported that Conference USA sent a letter to American Conference commissioner Mike Aresco “seeking support for regionalization of three Group of Five conferences in the wake of increasing instability amid conference realignment.”

The idea is that Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the American would reconfigure into regional leagues. 

It only makes sense. After Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston move to the Big 12 in a couple of years, those three leagues will consist of the following: 

► Seven schools in the Southwest: Southern Methodist and Tulsa from the American; Texas-El Paso, Rice, North Texas and Texas-San Antonio from Conference USA; and Texas State from the Sun Belt. 

► Seven schools in the mid-Atlantic: East Carolina and Navy from the American; Charlotte, Old Dominion and Marshall from C-USA; and Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State from the Sun Belt.

► Sixteen schools in the Deep South: South Florida, Memphis and Tulane from the American; Florida Atlantic, Middle Tennessee, Florida International, Alabama-Birmingham, Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi from C-USA; and Troy, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, South Alabama and Arkansas State from the Sun Belt. 

► Plus however you want to designate Temple and Western Kentucky. 

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UTEP faced Old Dominion in a Conference USA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

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It seems goofy to have Texas schools in each of those three conferences. Same with Louisiana schools. 

The travel demands are financially massive. 

But how to divide up the members of the three conferences? I’ll let them sort it out. 

Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod, the former Tulsa athletic director, and league chairman Neal Smatresk, president at North Texas, addressed the letter to Aresco and Tulane president Michael Fitts. 

But both Aresco and Sun Belt commissioner Keith Gill told CBS Sports they were not in favor of the idea. Aresco seems intent on adding schools from the Sun Belt and/or C-USA to fill out the American void. 

"Let's just at least talk," MacLeod told CBS Sports. "We're all so dang competitive. Our presidents and our chancellors and our ADs have been talking about regionalization long before this current wave of realignment.” 

CBS Sports obtained a copy of the letter, and it includes some interesting information. 

“Rather than continuing to perpetuate the pattern of universities moving from conference to conference in pursuit of modest media revenues, we see an opportunity to develop a more sensible and sustainable conference model,” the letter wrote. 

Modest media revenues. Interesting phrase.  

The letter continued, “The media world is transforming from the linear bundle to digital direct to consumer and as such, with few exceptions, the future revenue growth in this area appears to be modest.” 

That was exactly the fear expressed by OU officials concerning future Big 12 media rights and why the Sooners say they are moving to the Southeastern Conference. 

It’s all interesting.  

Conference realignment with cooperation is unlikely. But at some point, someone will realize that Temple and SMU sharing a conference, and Texas-El Paso and Charlotte sharing a conference, and Texas State and Appalachian State sharing a conference, makes no sense. 

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Mailbag: Cotton Bowl setting 

Some people are interested in the most fascinating things. 

David: “When you write articles about the OU-Texas game, would you and your co-writers please figure out that the Cotton Bowl field runs east and west. There is no south ramp or south endzone. Good grief, it's east-west. Just like Stillwater and Texas A&M. Thank you.”

Tramel: Thanks for writing. The Cotton Bowl actually runs northwest/southeast. It looks to me like it's more north than west, more south than east. And virtually everyone over more than 80 years agrees with me.

No one ever says OU fans sit on the east side. They say OU fans sit on the south end.  

\But David is correct. The Cotton Bowl is not a straight north-south configuration. It absolutely is tilted.

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Take a Ride on the Reading: The Seventh Game 

Noted baseball writer Roger Kahn took a turn at authoring novels with The Seventh Game, a 1982 book about a baseball veteran pitching Game 7 of the World Series. 

Johnny Longboat is an Oklahoman with a difficult personal life and an uncertain future. He’s a 41-year-old veteran whose glorious career as a pitcher is about to end.  

Game 7 and Longboat’s life are intertwined throughout the book, and it’s an extra treat for Oklahomans, with Mayes County and Kingfisher and particularly Caddo County playing integral parts of Longboat’s life. 

Fans of Roger Kahn and baseball and Oklahoma will enjoy The Seventh Game

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.