Before the Oklahoma State faced Baylor on Saturday afternoon, Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy announced what many expected already: Chuba Hubbard had opted out of the rest of the season. Hubbard, who has been hampered by injury for most of the season, had not played since
\Bedlam, and it makes sense, especially this year, that he sit out the final game of the regular season and the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft.
Chuba Hubbard should go down as one of the greatest running backs to ever put on the Cowboy orange. He rushed for 2,094 yards a year ago, the 18th most in a single season—and the most ever by a sophomore—in NCAA history. He took Oklahoma State to places they weren’t expected to go, and when he announced he was going to return for another season, fans rejoiced.
After some offseason drama that was seemingly resolved pretty quickly, many fans turned on Hubbard. They said he wasn’t focused. They said he was being selfish. They said he should “Go back to Canada.” In all reality, those fans probably just disagree with his politics, which is a sad reason to turn your back on someone, especially when it hasn’t been mentioned in months. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in.
Still, Hubbard entered the season as Heisman dark horse and primed to help lead Oklahoma State to a Big 12 Championship Game appearance. The season went much differently than expected, however. COVID-19 offered up unprecedented challenges, the Cowboy offensive line was depleted before the season even started, and Oklahoma State faltered midseason. Chuba struggled through the early parts of the season, dealing with an ankle injury, and by the time he re-aggravated the injury during Bedlam, it was pretty obvious (to me at least) that he should go ahead and sit the rest of the season.
When Chuba’s decision became public on Saturday, I wasn’t mad or even surprised. I expected it to happen, and in my mind, it’s the right choice. He has no reason to risk further injury, and Oklahoma State’s backups seem to be doing just fine. Shouldn’t fans rather a healthy player be in the game over an injured one, even when the injured one is more talented? Now, Hubbard can focus on rehabbing any injuries and getting ready for the NFL Draft, his end goal all along.
The idea that Chuba Hubbard quit on the team strikes me as ridiculous. In the minds of many, he had no business stepping foot back on campus after last season. He had proven himself, on the gridiron, and he was primed to go make millions in the NFL. At his own personal risk, he decided to return, and I truly believe he gave it his best effort. Again, there’s absolutely no reason for him to risk his future for a meaningless regular season game where he wasn’t needed anyway, and a mediocre bowl game that fans will probably complain about anyway.
In the end, Chuba Hubbard supported his teammates. When sidelined with injury, he cheered them on passionately. When he couldn’t be on the sideline, he showed his support on Twitter. Through and through, Hubbard was a Cowboy great, and he should be treated as such. Following an incredible run of Oklahoma State running backs, Chuba was one of my favorites over the last 20 years of watching Cowboy football. I will miss him greatly, I hope he is successful in the pros, and all I have to say is this:
Thank you, Chuba.