The Oklahoma State Cowboys have filed a lawsuit against Texas Longhorns offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Joe Wickline, alleging that the former Oklahoma State offensive line coach breached his contract and seeking nearly $600,000 in damages.
In turn, Wickline has filed a counter suit against Oklahoma State.
The lawsuits revolve around whether Wickline is actually the offensive coordinator and actually calls plays for Texas, though it's truly only the latter part that is under dispute.
Here's part of the letter that Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder sent to Wickline:
Part of Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder's letter to Joe Wickline as part of legal battle over "play calling duties." pic.twitter.com/NseYKN65XT— Chip Brown (@ChipBrownHD) October 23, 2014
After Wickline was offered the Texas offensive line coach position, Oklahoma State added an amendment to Wickline's contract while giving him a raise that specified that he would have to receive a promotion to offensive coordinator with play-calling duties or leave for the NFL to get out of his contract:
Whether or not Wickline would actually call plays was a topic of conversation during the spring.
At head coach Charlie Strong's introductory press conference, he said that Wickline would call plays, but even seemed to hedge on that statement.
"Joe Wickline will call plays on offense," Strong said at the time. "He is the offensive coordinator, he will call plays but Shawn has been the guy who also -- and Les has called at Mississippi State. So all three will collaborate together but it will be a system when you look at it offensively you have three coordinators there but Joe will call the plays on offense."
Then, after opening spring practice, Strong seemed to sing a different tune, saying that assistant head coach for the offense/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson would have the "one, final voice" in calling plays in a reversal from his previous statement.
"Wickline is going to be involved in it," Strong said. "He's going to make some calls. Shawn is going to make some calls. When we go down the stretch and we have to have a call made, I think Shawn, because he's been doing it for a long time and I'm comfortable with him."
At the time, the comments raised questions about how the two would collaborate and the actual division of responsibilities, with concerns that there would be issues since Wickline seemed to be offensive coordinator in name only.
It was also clear at the time that Wickline's title of offensive coordinator could be in place merely to avoid the buyout of his contract.
For all intents and purposes, Watson is actually the play caller, which would put Wickline in breach of contract -- besides the comments from Strong, Watson is the one who meets with the media every week and he's the one who sits in the coaching box where the offensive coordinator is typically situated. He was the one celebrating at the end of the Iowa State game after making the two calls that won it in regulation.
So now Texas has a rather ugly situation on its hands that has been brewing for months and could have been avoided by simply paying the buyout in the first place, money that the Longhorns didn't have to spend on making a splash hire at offensive coordinator.
Now lawsuits have been filed by both sides only weeks ahead of the Longhorns traveling to Stillwater on November 15 to face off against the Cowboys.
At least there will be compelling storylines when that happens, eh?