Monday, September 27, 2010

Revisiting QB controversies of the past

I really hate any time BC has a quarterback controversy. It really means one of two things:
1. The talent level is much worse than we ever imagined
2. The coaching staff is lacking perspective and leadership

Neither of those alternatives are good. In this case I think the staff mishandled the QBs. We will find out shortly. Regardless, a change usually provides a breath of fresh air and helps the team progress. Here is a look back on the QB controversies since the Henning era. In most cases, making the change paid off for BC.

1995: Mark Hartsell vs Matt Hasselbeck

The situation: Hartsell was the big armed incumbent. But his problem was never his arm, it was his decision making (sound familiar). He looked lost at times. Hasselbeck was an afterthought. He was the backup while the QB of the future Scott Mutryn redshirted.
What happened: Hartsell was giving games away -- most blatantly against Michigan State -- and Hasselbeck showed promise in a few mop up series. Hartsell missed a start against Army and Hasselbeck got his chance. BC got killed by the Black Knights that day and Hasselbeck didn't look like the QB he would become. Hartsell would take back over, continue to play bad football and BC would have a losing season.
Hasselbeck should have played more. As we would soon find out, Matt was a very good QB. He didn't have the pedigree or the biggest arm, so the coaches didn't want him, yet he showed that QB is also about pressure and in game decisions.

1996: Matt Hasselbeck vs Scott Mutryn

The situation: Mutryn was the chosen one and Hasselbeck was the guy who "wasn't as good as Hartsell."
What happened: After a competitive summer camp, Mutryn was named the starter for BC's opener in Hawaii. He struggled and Hasselbeck came off the bench in relief. He led BC to a last minute win and won the job.
BC has a terrible year but it wasn't Matt Hasselbeck's fault. He played well and kept us in a few games. In the whole scheme of things Mutryn was a pretty good QB, just not as good as Matt.

2003: Quinton Porter vs Paul Peterson

The situation: Porter was the groomed product of the TOB system. Peterson was a undersized JUCO transfer.
What happened: Porter was the starter, while Peterson got a series or two in the second quarter to get him game experience. To many fans, Peterson looked good in his limited time but he never did anything to set himself apart. Porter injured his hand against WVU and Peterson nearly helped BC steal the game in a comeback. He started the next week and ended up being one of BC's most effective starters.
Verdict: In a way I think this situation is closest to what we have now. The coaching staff had a lot invested in Porter and wanted him to succeed for many reasons. Peterson was new on campus and "not ready" or whatever rationalization they told themselves at the time. Ultimately Peterson's ability to come in and win despite being smaller and not having the arm, show how you can't always measure a QB based on practice.

2005: Matt Ryan vs Quinton Porter

The situation: Porter was the fifth year SR ready for his time. Ryan was just a goofy kid who looked overwhelmed in the Syracuse game the year before.
What happened: Porter looked terrible and got injured against Florida State. Ryan came off the bench and looked good. He also played well in his start against Clemson. Once Porter got healthy, the job was his again. He had a terrible game against Wake Forest. Ryan came off the bench and led a miracle comeback. Porter blew the UNC game the following week. Ryan was named the starter and had a great close to the season.
Verdict: This will always be the biggest mistake of TOB's tenure. If we had won the UNC game we would have gone to the ACC Championship Game. After the Wake game it was clear to the whole world that Ryan was special and better. Yet the staff stuck to their guns. I will give Spaz credit for not making this mistake. It didn't take him two losses to admit Shinskie was not the guy.

2008: Chris Crane vs Dominique Davis
The situation: Crane was the physically talented guy who had waited his turn behind Ryan. Dominique Davis was a flyer recruit that had moved up a very shallow depth chart.
What happened: Crane was pretty bad from the start. When BC lost to Georgia Tech, the staff struggled with every option and elected to roll with Crane. Fans, including this blogger, felt they should have given Davis a chance. Just as Crane was improving he got hurt and Davis took over.
Verdict: Although Davis did enough to get BC into the Championship Game once he played most fans realized the staff was right to stick with Crane.

I wish Spaz had handled this process differently, but I think playing Rettig Saturday will benefit everyone now and in the future. I just hope he plays well enough that we look back on this and say, "we found the right guy."


Goberry said...

Probably the greatest BC QB controversy was Hicks v. Foley after the Pitt game in 1991. Jack Bicknell, of all people, had a hard time starting a true freshman. It worked out for BC that he did.

Goberry said...

Make that 1990 with Bicknell.
It was Hicks v. Foley then. My apologies for saying it was 91.

Also, the Mike Power/Mark Kamphaus debacle in 87/88 was much worse than any of the others mentioned here. Sorry, ATL, but BC did have football before 1995.

Bob B. said...

This wouldn't have been a controversy if they had found the right guy to begin with. At this point, it is too late to bring a new QB in and win the ACC or even compete. I think Spaz should be fired at the end of the season for this. I also think Mark Richt will be fired at the end of this season at Georgia. I hope BC looks at Richt, who is everything that Spaziani is not. Richt is decisive, charismatic, and can recruit athletes and NFL caliber talent in the Southeast. He can't be any worse than what we have. Spaz is a defensive coordinator thrown in as a head coach. It doesn't work.

Scott said...

Here is the thing. Spaz is a defensive guy, and his defense remains great, one of the best year-in-year out. He walked into a shit storm with no QBs in program other than Masco (an unrecruited guy), and Shinskie was nothing more than a flyer they gambled months after signing. There was zero Spaz could do about that. He reacted by signing Rettig, Bordner and now Suntrap. That's the best you can do of a crappy situation. Now about of coaching was going make marginal players (Shinkie/Marsco) players as Frosh, RSF, or sophs. I just can't blame him for any of that ... or do I blame him for the growing pains certain to follow a true Frosh.

But, I think he could have handled it a little better. They had all Spring to test Shinkie in way to learn what they needed .. they also needed to use that time to get a #2 read. Masco didn't get enough snaps in camp or the cupcakes to have both ready.

With that, if they are so scared of Masco, then we shouldn't waste time, and move right to Rettig ... if breaking his redshirt is inevitable. I just wish the #2 hot real work. Though I sympathize with Spaz extremely strong distaste for starting a true frosh. Whatever the probe of Shinkie/Masco improving ... that is probably better than a true frosh doing well.

mod34b said...

Excellent post ATL. A very good read.

mod34b said...

Atl. U r making some big BC news on Twitter:

"bcatleagle Rettig will start against ND. The coaching staff is silent, but five different people "in the know" told me it will b Chase on Saturday.
about 9 hours ago"

blist said...

I had completely forgotten about the Hiocks-Foley controversy, Goberry. Foley's an example of a frosh who looked great from the start, if my memory serves. Soem guys just have that intangible, and foley did (shame he got injured with the Jets)

mod10aeagle said...

How is it that with BCs pro-style offense (lots of down-field passing), a fairly impressive history of QB success, including Matt Ryan, the best QB recruits we could bring to BC were Davis, Tuggle, Marscovetra, and Shinskie (Crane was already here)? Seriously. I know that we've never gotten the super highly recruited QBs, and all of these guys were relative unknowns coming in, but shouldn't we be one of the top 15 or 20 schools for any pro-style prospects?

Erik said...

I think Spaz has been getting a bad rap this week. I thought the defense played well against VT, and that is his specialty. Much like the Chris Crane situation, none of us really know if the guys on the bench are going to win games in better fashion than Shinskie (we sure hope so, but time will tell there).

Spaz has done a good job with other freshman, being willing to play KPL & Swigert, last year playing Kuechly.

The coach has pulled the trigger and that is what everyone wanted.

blist said...

Mod10a - weren't Jags and Logan aiming to go all option-type mobile? I remember they wanted to get lighter guys for the o-line, and Davis and Tuggle fit the bill for that at QB. Crane, while he wasn't Matt Ryan, would have won Saturday, I'd say,

Patrick said...

An unmentioned point is that over the past 20 years, we have had only one QB who has started for more than two seasons, and that is Glenn Foley. Matt Hasselback, Brian St. Pierre, and Matt Ryan all had the talent to be 3+ year starters.

If Rettig is decent this year, and demonstrates a high upside, he could be very, very special. Imagine if Ryan had been allowed 3 years as a starter (wouldn't we have won an ACC championship?).

The only problem that I see is that Nyquil was only sending two guys into pass patterns when Marsco was in against VaTech. Painfully conservative despite a 16-0 defecit. What will he do with a true frosh in there?

mod10aeagle said...

Erik, that's essentially my point -- how can we be in this position, the third season after Ryan's graduation, where we don't have on our roster a single QB in whom anyone has any confidence, including the coaches who recruited them? That is a huge failure in both recruiting and coaching, isn't it?

Ted H said...

Enough is enough. Spaz may not be an offensive coach but he needs to be accountable for the entire team. He hired Tranquill(Forest GumP) and that shows terrible judgement. Tranquill is a joke and everybody knows that. Clearly we are going in the wrong direction here. In past years I have defended Gene D but I feel we need to clean house. Lets get some fresh blood in as AD and dump Spaz. The game day experience needs to change and the football program needs to get more relevant. We are still existing as if were in the 70's while other programs are running new innovative offenses. Spaz will not change. He is what he is. Let not waste another 5 years on this and get this turned around. I do believe that Donahue will be ok in Bball though.

ATL_eagle said...


Thanks for adding the Hicks-Foley. I know there was plenty of BC football prior to 1995. The problem is finding any archives to confirm stats and storylines. Maybe the Globe will be and easy to use one day. Right now I use USA Today's game articles which only go back to 1994.

blist said...

Google news archive is fantastic for old articles, ATL.
Some searches end up on pay per view articles, but a lot from the 1980s and before is free. Very handy, especially for sports.

mod34b said...

Blist -- Great link!

Found a great 1982 article by SI on this great short kid playing QB at BC. A fun read if you hail from that era. See HERE

Big Jack Krack said...

I was at the game when Flutie engineered 4 unanswered TD's against Clemson.

One of his advantages was that our games were not on TV a lot - and therefore he could just wear the opponents out because they didn't have all the TV down time to rest & recover - and Flutie could sustain a drive down the field.

On a very hot night (un-Boston-like)the Clemson defensive players were gassed and William Refrigerator Man Perry was on the bench sucking oxygen.

It was beautiful.