USC's most important position battle has finally been decided, with head coach Steve Sarkisian announcing on Tuesday who will be the Trojans' signal-caller in 2014:
Sark addressed the media after Tuesday's practice in USC's final week of spring camp. Last Saturday, the head coach had backed off from saying he would name a starting quarterback soon, but clearly, things have changed in Troy.
While this ruling comes as no surprise—Kessler started nearly all of USC's games in 2013, giving him a significant advantage over his main challenger, Max Browne—Sark's decision to name a quarterback early is the right choice not only for the fans' sake, but also for that of the quarterbacks themselves:
Last season, the Trojans struggled to have an identity in the early weeks of the season because they didn't know who their true quarterback was. As we know, things came together in the end, but it was an unnecessarily bumpy start.
Having Kessler know in April that he will be starting in August gives him the confidence to know he can lead the Trojans yet again, and it gives the rest of the team and the coaches a focal point around which to build.
It's important that Sarkisian, already facing all the challenges inherent to being a new head coach, makes his first offseason as seamless as possible. Naming a quarterback before the spring game helps accomplish that goal, and it's the right move considering the training wheels are still on the uptempo offense.
All that said, Sark left the door open for Browne to still have an opportunity to change things come the fall:
Even if a battle reopens, it's likely that Kessler starts on August 30, and that prevents a cloud of uncertainty from hanging over USC through the offseason.
For Browne, it means another year of sitting on the sidelines, but when it was his turn to address the media, he made it clear that he intends for those sidelines to remain cardinal and gold:
Quarterback competitions are nothing new at USC, with former Trojan stars like Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and John David Booty all having gone through them. For Browne, this is just another stepping stone:
Coach Sarkisian will certainly continue to push and challenge Kessler through this final week of spring camp, and now that he knows he's won the job, we can expect that Kessler's performance on Saturday will be even further evidence that Sark made the right choice.