Haven't really seen either of these articles featured prominently here, so I thought I would post them along with a little analysis (sorry, but these are too important for a FanShot - if I outright missed them somewhere else, well, then at least read my inconsequential musings.)
The article that obviously has gotten attention today has been Cam Inman's piece outright endorsing Riley as the starter - as of 9:00 p.m. it was still the featured story on the Contra Costa Times homepage.
Overall, I think this piece isn't significant for its logic, but rather its prominence - the lead column on the first day for camp for the paper with the highest Cal grad / reader ratio around.
Inman's logic is fairly shallow:
- The end of 2007 sucked...
- Riley prevented it from being the worst collapse by any team ever (agreed, here) ...therefore...
- Riley should be the starter...
- Additionally, even if Riley doesn't win the job outright heshould get the nod purely to break with 2007. (CGB start your hate-mail machines!)
More interesting than the daily "I am a writer/blogger and I think Riley/Longshore should start/go to hell" pieces, was Rusty Simmons' piece in the Chron. It used quotes and historical examples and stuff (yah reporting!),
Rather than diving into the depths of who should start, it instead points out that this type of tenuous situation could create long-term problems for the team as a whole. That, in the end, a decisive choice might be better than the right choice.
In my opinion, this is the single most important passage in any Cal football article this offseason:
"I don't look at the quarterback situation as a question," Tedford said. "It's just a matter of making a decision on who is going to take the first snap."
That's where Follett, speaking as the voice of the players, re-enters the picture. He knows he's right in the middle of a potential quagmire.
"You can tell it is split among guys about who they want to be the quarterback, but we know we have to support either one," Follett said. "If we don't, it will rip the team apart."
Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter committed every possible wrong in a similar situation in 2006. He named the more experienced Sam Keller as the starter, only to reverse his decision to the younger, flashier Rudy Carpenter within 24 hours. Keller transferred, and the team struggled to a 7-6 record.
Follett knows about the ASU debacle and also saw what happened last year in Berkeley when Longshore tried to return from a sprained ankle, but threw at least one interception in five consecutive games as Cal went 1-4. Longshore remained a favorite among some in the locker room for trying to play through pain, and Riley emerged as a favorite among others for showing flashes of brilliance.
"We've already had a season when our team got ripped apart, and we won't let that happen again," Follett said. "We had way too many egos last year, and we had people picking sides. We have a whole new face that won't allow that now."
Let's being to break that down, shall we:
(1) Finally, someone (Follett) gets the sack to admit that the "team chemistry" problems in 2007 were a direct product of the QB controversy.
(2) In 2008, we have a coach who thinks it will be OK to not come to a clear resolution of this problem.
(3) The players are still spit.
(3) A player (OK, it is Zack Follett, so we can't take this as representing the whole team) leaves open that this issue could again tear the team apart yet again. Yes, he does while denying that it will happen again, but they are strong words nonetheless.
(4) We are compared to 2006 Arizona State! (And we aren't going to have off-the-field issues decide this one. In a sense, Koetter got lucky that Keller was so messed up that the team as a whole decided to endorse Carpenter.)
This got me thinking about just how difficult this decision will be, and that despite having strong opinions,that I in no way would want to be the guy to decide this.
Some of the factors at play just off the top of my head:
- The NFL - how does Longshore's future weigh into this? Does Tedford owe him a senior season, even if Riley might be as good or perhaps better.
- 2008, based on personnel, should be a rebuilding year on offense. Does that mean we want a senior, experienced quarterback to guide our young'uns or a guy who still has three years of eligibility?
- How useful is practice in determining a starter when we have two years of gametape for Longshore, and a general idea that Riley is pretty good in games? Is this decision going to be based 25% on past performance, or 75% on past performance? In either case, which quarterback benefits?
- Will the opinion of the team factor in at all? (Remember, this is what did in Koetter at ASU - he lost his job in part because he never even asked the team for an opinion and it turned out they were 100% unanimous for the other guy.)
- Will Brock Mansion transfer immediately if Riley is named the starter?
- How does Tedford's overall assessment of the team's potential influence his choice?
I am sure that there are more issues. I don't envy coach Tedford right now.
Riley fans, Longshore fans, let us pray together for a peaceful resolution over the next four weeks.
For now, this is a QB competition and not yet a controversy. It seems impossible, but I am holding out hope that it remains that way.