If sports is the most lifelike version of reality TV, then quarterback competitions are the most-watched episodes.
College football fans love a quarterback competition. Quarterbacks, despite playing one of the most difficult positions in sports, are easily judged from the stands. They are the most recognizable faces on campus.
Defensive personnel and offensive linemen can run in and out of games without much consideration, but everyone knows who’s behind center.
Quarterbacks are the only football players tagged with a won-lost record next to their names.
And keeping with the reality TV analogy, the SEC should have good ratings this offseason among fans.
Seven schools — more than half of the league — are holding quarterback competitions this spring. And these aren’t your typical, let-them-duke-it-out contests. An extra degree of difficulty seems to exist in almost every competition.
At Arkansas, Michigan transfer Ryan Mallett figures to compete with Casey Dick for the starting job. Unless the NCAA can’t decide quickly whether Mallett can play, which would certainly complicate the situation.
The Razorbacks are citing “extenuating circumstances” in their request to the NCAA to allow Mallett to play without sitting out a year. Those “extenuating circumstances” could be new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez telling Mallett he didn’t belong in the new spread offense. Or it could be that Dick isn’t very good. Knowing the NCAA, Arkansas will likely be starting Dick this season.
LSU knows the feeling. Ryan Perrilloux is supposed to start at quarterback for the defending national champions. But Perrilloux, in what’s becoming a spring tradition, is suspended from the team with no certain return date. Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch and Jarrett Lee are competing for the job.
“He broke team rules, and I really don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking and talking about him,” coach Les Miles said of Perrilloux. “His responsibility is to do everything right and get back on this team. And I’ll focus on the guys that are competing for jobs on our team currently.”
Jonathan Crompton is expected to win the job at Tennessee over the younger B.J. Coleman. But both quarterbacks will be learning the first new offense in Phillip Fulmer’s career at Tennessee, only adding to the adjustment period following Erik Ainge’s departure. The coach for those new quarterbacks, Dave Clawson, will be working at the Football Bowl Subdivision level for the first time.
Auburn’s four quarterbacks are learning an entirely new system. Kodi Burns helped his chances to win the job in Saturday’s scrimmage.
“Kodi, considering this is relatively new to him, looked pretty good,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said. “Everybody else kind of struggled.”
Kentucky’s top three receivers left along with quarterback Andre’ Woodson, leaving Curtis Pulley and Mike Hartline without many reliable targets in their competition. Vanderbilt lost all five starting offensive linemen in front of Mackenzi Adams and Chris Nickson.
Spring practice will solve some of these competitions. Others will drag into preseason camp. All of them will be scrutinized by fans the entire offseason.
As if SEC football needed the extra attention.