Something is gnawing at me. Last week on Twitter, people were fawning over Taylor Martinez in the morning then hoping that Bubba Starling would become a Husker instead of signing with the Kansas City Royals later on in the evening. This seems extremely selfish to me.
I see myself as an optimistic realist. I hope for the best but easily accept what the outcome of things will likely be and live with it. With that said, this is how I see the possible quarterback race for the 2011 season:
If you’re a Taylor Martinez fan, you want Bubba Starling to sign that piece of paper to be a Kansas City Royal immediately. There are plenty of people on each side of the fence when it comes to Martinez. Some are for him starting at quarterback with no questions asked. Others think that there should be open competition for the position and Taylor wouldn’t turn out to be the best candidate even with only Brion Carnes pushing him.
Ron Kellogg and Tyson Brokemeier are nice additions, but out of the four signal-callers only Brion will push Taylor for the starting spot. What about Jamal Turner you ask? He’s a possibility, but I keep feeling that he’s not going to slip under center until the depth chart panic level gets to DEFCON 3 or worse. Then you bring in Bubba and the whole situation gets a little murky.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Bubba is enrolled at Nebraska on August 16. This means that he’s staying in Lincoln, bucking the money from Kansas City’s system and will be dropping anchor on both sides of I-80. Of course should Bubba stick around, it’s obvious to me that he’s the better overall quarterback on the depth chart immediately.
He’s not the best thrower (Carnes) and not the fastest (Taylor), but looking at overall talent and brainpower, he’s more than likely going to separate himself further from the pack. Am I sure of this? Not totally, but a kid that goes top five in the MLB draft isn’t a slouch, folks.
Taylor will have the benefit of knowing the playbook at the start of the season and that should give him the edge out of fall camp. As time goes on, why wouldn’t Bubba and/or Brion won’t have opportunities to shine? What happens when another South Dakota State or Texas performance rears its ugly head or an old injury reemerges?
Martinez is growing up, though. He’s made some good decisions during the offseason, but there’s a difference when you have a few months to figure out how to handle a situation and 48 hours as the season demands.
If you’re buying a No. 3 jersey then you want Bubba to sign. If you’re for open competition and want to see what everyone can do, you don’t want him to sign. Of course there are those that ask, “Why can’t we have both?” You could but that means someone has to sit on the bench.
Would you choose to redshirt Bubba and then only get him for a potential two-year run or risk Taylor bolting to the west coast where a school like UCLA could use him in a nanosecond?
This doesn’t mesh well unless one of them makes the decision to move positions and I believe it would be Martinez moving to receiver. He’d be a good wide out especially considering he’d take the punishment and sell out going over the middle. He’d work well on special teams, too, but would he be willing to accept this if it would be the best for him and the team?
On the other side of the coin, let’s say that Bubba signs with the Royals. Taylor starts all season long and the Cornhuskers have a season similar to the last where they had chances that couldn’t be capitalized on. Consider what would happen if a stud quarterback comes into the fold with the 2012 class and add a year in Beck’s system for Carnes, Kellogg and Brokemeier.
The competition only grows. Does Martinez step up and what happens if a stud JUCO transfer enters the mix? A number of questions will spring up from another nine or 10-win campaign during a year where Nebraska practically has the Big Ten title for the taking and lost out due to not being able to capitalize again.
This scenario reminds me of 1998 when Bobby Newcombe and Eric Crouch fought for the starting spot. Bobby could run, but Crouch won out as the better thrower and decision-maker. During the first two-thirds of the season, many felt that Frank Solich had made the wrong decision. The choice justified itself over the next three years, however.
Tim Beck and Bo Pelini have the same assessment to make soon because once Bubba commits, there is no turning back. You can’t have it both ways, Husker fan. Neither quarterback will sit on the bench for long before the rumor mill starts swirling. If you think that it was bad during the week following A&M last year, imagine what happens when two high profile athletes are thrown into the mix.
If you want a great player, then praise the competition that each athlete would give each other. Hijack Scott Boras when the deadline comes. If you want to live and die with Taylor, get Bubba a pen and a Storm Chasers hat.