The Texas Longhorns may be short of their reputation as one of the country's top college football programs, and in their quest to re-affirm themselves, criticism gets shoved into any crevice it can find.
Quarterback David Ash is probably at the forefront of that criticism, at least the crumbs that fall from the plates of the coaching staff.
In an Alamo Bowl that the Longhorns desperately needed to win, no matter how much downplay the victory may have gotten, David Ash certainly extended his murky career with a solid performance capable of providing a springboard for the 2013 season.
A Matter of Circumstance
Ash's 2012 season was nothing glorious as there was a generous mixture of good, bad and ugly.
But the circumstances of the two season Ash has completed with the Longhorns make evaluating the position very complex in the right perspective.
No, Ash is far and away from what Colt McCoy and Vince Young were able to accomplish, but both of those quarterbacks were equipped with the right kind of weapons and support to be successful very often.
Likewise, Ash has nothing close to the kind of defenses that the Longhorns were able to field in the past.
Ash's leash grew shorter as the season grew older, but he easily added some slack to it by getting over a mental hump in the Alamo Bowl by leading a come-from-behind win against Oregon State.
The circumstances are mostly stacked against Ash, but the junior-to-be made his case that he can be the guy for the Longhorns in the future. How successful he can be is up to the circumstances that cloud just how effective Ash has been.
There has been some smoke about Case McCoy's future with the Texas program, meaning that no longer should Ash be peering over his shoulder to see just how close the back-up quarterback is to claiming the starter's job.
For argument's sake, if McCoy indeed does not return next season, Ash will be starting in front of two redshirt freshmen quarterbacks in Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet, neither of whom has seen a snap in a Texas jersey.
So while Ash's Alamo Bowl performance has made him the clear-cut starter, would a quarterback controversy push Ash to improve or send him into a sense of complacency that could undo much of what he did in 2012?
That question remains to be answered, but for right now, it is Ash's job to lose as he determines how successful 2013 can be for the Longhorns.