Thursday, October 20, 2005

Contemplating the controversy

Quinton Porter is starting against Virginia Tech. Not surprising. Very disappointing. Despite my doubts, I wanted Quinton to do well. And he has had his moments this year. But after seeing FSU Part II against Wake, I really feel the coaching staff is making the wrong choice. I don’t claim to have the day-to-day insight into the team or the football knowledge of the staff. I am also heavily biased and lack perspective on the situation. So I tried to take all the possible arguments for starting Porter and see if they add up. Maybe I am missing something?

Reason 1: We (the staff and whole BC community) owe it to Porter

This theory states that the staff owes Quinton the starting job because he is a fifth-year senior who has done everything they asked. Keeping your nose clean, going to class and redshirting per request are admirable. I was even impressed with the way Porter handled getting the hook last week. But it is no excuse for starting. In sports, good guys lose their starting spots everyday. Is it unfortunate? Yes. Is it fair? Probably. The goal is to win and the staff should go with the guy who won the game last week. Not the one who nearly threw it away.

Reason 2: Porter has played better this season

Quinton has played more, but if you look at the stats I wouldn’t say he has played that much better. In fact, I would say Ryan’s poise at Clemson and heroic effort in relief tell a story that the numbers don’t. Porter hasn’t done anything that makes you say “Ryan couldn’t have done that.” On the other hand, we’ve seen Ryan do things we know Quinton cannot do.

Reason 3: We want experience going into Blacksburg

Blacksburg is a tough place to play. Probably our biggest road test this year. Quinton has more experience in general, but in my opinion, Ryan has faced a bigger challenges on the road. Porter’s biggest road win was 2003 against a very bad Penn State team. Ryan just led BC to victory over Clemson in Death Valley last month.

Reason 4: If it ain’t broke…

In sports I often subscribe to this motto. BC is 6-1 and in the Top 15. Who is complaining? Well we wouldn’t be 6-1 without Matt Ryan. I won’t go as far to say that we would’ve beat FSU if he had started, but he did make it interesting at the end there, didn’t he? The ain’t broke concept relies on consistency. Porter has been anything but.

Reason 5: TOB has a system and we have to stick to it

Once he got a few of his recruiting classes in, TOB has groomed a QB to take over as a Junior. That was the plan with Porter. If you stick with the plan, next season is Matt Ryan’s. I would not object to this if it was fool proof. But look at the results. Brian St. Pierre had a strong Junior year but then regressed his Senior season. Porter lost his job as a Junior and redshirted last year. The hope was that he would put it all together this year. So far it seems like much of the same (pretty good games or full meltdown). So maybe the system needs flexibility.

Reason 6: Sends the wrong message to the players/divides the team

I guess it might. But I think most players want to play and want to win. So yes it sends the message that seniority does not trump everything. It also sends the message that we want to win and win now! As for player divides…I can only infer from my limited exposure. It seems that Ryan is very popular. Porter on the other hand was bitching out his teammates on Saturday. I don’t know how the guys take it. In my uniformed opinion, I would say that no one will begrudge Ryan if he is named the starter.

Reason 7: The staff honestly believes Porter gives us the better chance

These guys know a lot more about football than I do. They also have the benefit of seeing these guys grow, practice, progress and interact. Clearly they have a lot more information and insight. Yet, I watch these games like the Zapruder film. Ryan’s last five minutes against Wake were better than anything Porter has done this season. You could see him move through his progressions and make aggressive decisions. Porter can say what he wants about how he played, but anyone watching him could see the problems. If you overlook his reads, his actual throws leave a lot to be desired. Practice play and film room is important, but the game is what counts and everyone could see who gives us the better chance. I don’t doubt the coaches see much more on film than I do. I just think they are ignoring the evidence in favor of the other non-playing issues I’ve already listed.

Reason 8: If Porter struggles, Ryan can come in

I believe Porter will be on a short leash against Virginia Tech. But expecting Ryan to jump off the bench and perform another miracle is asking too much. Quarterbacks are not relief pitchers and Virginia Tech is not Wake Forest. If Porter costs us points, it is unlikely the Hokies will let us back in the game.

I think I’ve covered every rationalization the coaching staff might be using. Their stats are so similar that the more subjective issues are bound to cloud judgment. And college football is not a business. Relationships and bonds are very important, so I am sure it would be hard for TOB and Bible to sit Porter. But the time has come. This could be a special season and it would be a shame to let it slip away with our best quarterback on the sideline.