Thursday, May 28, 2009
Two random musings on the Auburn quarterbacking situation
1. Commenter Marcus's recent, uh, comment revealing that Brandon Cox was a bona fide recruiting stud once upon a time--check it, we're talking a top-10 position ranking, four stars, offers from Saban's LSU and Spurrier's Florida--got me to thinking about our former Jekyll-and-Hyde poised field general/frightened rabbit. And after a bit, specifically, it got me to thinking: We deserve this.
By "this," I mean, a quarterback situation--hopeful as I remain about it--where the options are a career 50.7 percent passer with a 7-to-2 INT-to-TD ratio last season; a career third-stringer in his fourth year in the program who's never taken a meaningful snap; and two true freshmen. Particularly given what Malzahn could do with a quarterback as accurate as Cox could be on occasion, I doubt there's an Auburn fan alive who wouldn't take Cox in a heartbeat, warts (great big giant heart-stopping warts, yes) and all, over the current situation.
Here's where the irony kicks in: remember when many, many Auburn fans wouldn't have taken Cox in a lifetime of heartbeats? Remember when Cox took the field against Mississippi St. and nearly got booed right back off it? He took the field that day as a senior, as a quarterback with a 21-6 record as a starter, as a player who had fought through various off-field difficulties and a degenerative muscle condition for the right to take the field in his home stadium, as a player as devoted to Auburn football as any player can be. And Auburn "fans" booed him. Booed the hell out of him.
So if Burns and/or Caudle and/or Rollison struggle this fall and we all end up riding the quarterback carousel, I'm going to try not to complain. When your team's fans tell football karma they're tired of having Brandon Cox for a quarterback and have to have something else, you know football karma's only going to be all to happy to oblige for as long as it can.
2. I've raised the possibility before that if Caudle is named the preseason starter, Burns could conceivably bolt. This is total, complete, utter, wholehearted, absolute idle speculation on my part, based on nothing more than the frustration that must have built up over Burns's star-crossed tenure-to-date on the Plains and the knowledge that a college football career is a very brief thing indeed ... and that not many players with Burns's professional-grade physical potential willingly spend theirs on the bench.
So while I don't like speculating about it--unless Rollison is every single bit as good as advertised, losing Burns would be a massive blow--there's precedent. In fact, we got a little more precedent this very week, as Justin Roper decided to transfer out of Oregon immediately upon learning he's lost the battle to be the Ducks' starting QB. There are some vague similarities between Roper and Burns--both were recruited under previous regimes for vastly different offensive systems, both have their career highlighted by a big bowl victory, both started last year as the favorite to earn the job only to fall behind when they suffered an early-season injury.
We're still light years away from any of this actually coming to fruition--Burns's experience and athleticism means he remains the favorite to retain the starting position (that's my guess, anyway), and again, even if Caudle is named the starter, it's not like Burns has ever hinted that he'd take the nuclear option rather than just doing his best to reclaim the job. But as the competition heads into summer workouts, I think it's worthwhile for us to understand exactly how high the stakes are for both the competitors and the team. And as long as a Burns transfer is somewhere on the table--and it very likely is--those stakes are goingto be a little bit higher than they would be otherwise.