Does USC Really Need More Than 2 Weeks to Pick a Quarterback?

Kyle KensingContributor IAugust 28, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Max Wittek #13 of the USC Trojans looks to pass during a 22-13 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Lane Kiffin has given no indication he's in a hurry to remove the shroud of mystery blanketing his USC Trojans offense. Both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are playing in the season opener against Hawaii—that much is established.   

Athletic director Pat Haden pulled back the curtain somewhat, telling Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles he believes "[the quarterback competition] is going to be decided...perhaps the first week, maybe the second week."

Haden's suggestion implies Kessler and Wittek splitting duties throughout the season a la Kyle Wachholtz and Brad Otton is a pipe dream.

It's also a hypothesis contingent on one quarterback definitively outclassing the other.  

Should Kessler and Wittek both shine—a possibility against Hawaii's porous defense—the process becomes exponentially more difficult for Kiffin. 

Kiffin's dilemma spilling into Week 2 would coincide with the beginning of Pac-12 conference play; the Trojans host Washington State in the second weekend. Having a quarterback in place by then eliminates distraction, instills confidence in the starter and allows him to begin establishing a rapport with his receivers. 

The process should take care of itself, however. Hawaii will be a live audition for both Wittek and Kessler, not unlike a talent competition reality show.  

Great as it may be to see Kiffin and his staff offer snap assessments like an American Idol panel, the decision will be made behind closed doors. The nation does have the opportunity to see it unfold live on television, though, and the forthcoming choice should be obvious. 

As bad as Hawaii may be defensively, one will do enough to move ahead of his competitor. Moreover, Kiffin and his staff cannot enter Week 1 without some inclination or preference. 

Kiffin has not tipped his hand throughout this offseason. Last season would suggest Wittek is the slight front-runner. He was second on the depth chart, and he got the call when Matt Barkley was lost to a shoulder injury. 

Kessler's benchmark is obviously much lower than it would be if Wittek had not struggled in his two starts. That there even is an audition Thursday was the result of Wittek's underwhelming showing against Notre Dame and Georgia Tech.

Nevertheless, the onus is on Kessler to stand out.