Oklahoma State Cowboys

Mike Gundy Explains Value of Veteran Quarterbacks in College Football

Oklahoma State football head coach Mike Gundy walks of the field following the Big 12 Football Championship game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

The days of a quarterback sticking around to play all four years of his eligibility with one school are pretty much gone, as the transfer portal and NIL worlds have combined to form an unrestricted free-agency market in college football.

Teams just don’t retain backup quarterbacks anymore, and transferring to another school that offers a starting gig and more NIL money is a no-brainer for most college football players.

The new age of college football hasn’t been all bad though, as the transfer portal has also provided many players and programs answers in their search for a symbiotic relationship. One such pairing is Oklahoma State and two-time transfer quarterback Alan Bowman.


Bowman has been around the block for a while, and having a quarterback who’s got six years of experience is extremely valuable in this day and age. Cowboys’ head coach Mike Gundy is all too aware of just how important that is to success.

During his 20-year tenure at Oklahoma State, Gundy’s success has gone as his starting quarterback has. When productive and efficient, Gundy’s teams have excelled.

“It’s the one position that can make or break all of us,” Mike Gundy told Berry Tramel. “Forget the portal, forget the NIL (name, image, likeness). High school football, college football, NFL. Everybody goes with the flow regarding their quarterback.

“Pretty much every year, your team’s based on your quarterback, and quarterback play is based on maturity.”

Getting Bowman back for what will be his seventh year of college football is a huge boost for Gundy’s 20th team. Sure, his touchdown-to-interception ratio might not blow you away and he’s not going to be a first-round draft pick, but Bowman’s experience is invaluable to the Pokes’ 2024 season.


“To have an experienced quarterback is valuable,” Gundy said.

“Defenses are more complex That affects quarterbacks, from a maturity standpoint. Making mistakes, correcting them, so on and so forth… The second year, he just learns the system. He gets comfortable … they get experience in the system.”

Gundy then used a point about Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers to drive the point home. In his first season in Austin, Ewers struggled at times down the stretch, and the Longhorns followed suit. However, in 2023, Ewers’s production increased dramatically with his completion percentage (up to 69.0% from 58.1%), touchdowns (up to 22 from 15), yards ( up to 3,479 from 2,177), and QB rating (up to 158.6 from 132.6) all skyrocketing in year two. As a result, Texas went from going 8-5 to 12-2 with a Big 12 title and a College Football Playoff appearance.

“Ewers, his first year he was pretty average, right?” Gundy asked. “He might have been below average. But as he’s learned what Sark (Steve Sarkisian) wants him to do, he’s played better.”

If Gundy can get that same sort of jump out of Bowman in his second year with Oklahoma State, there’s no telling where 2024 might take the Pokes.

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