Dear Rich Rodriguez and Michigan: Three's a Crowd at Quarterback

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Dear Rich Rodriguez and Michigan: Three's a Crowd at Quarterback
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Dear Rich Rod,

There’s a realization that you and your brethren in maize and blue are confident that the incoming talent is overflowing from the sideline and soon to the goal line.

Upon your slight delusions of grandeur, there’s an outpouring of music humming throughout camp—perhaps it goes something like this...

Come and dance on our floor...
Take a step that is new...
We've a lovable space that needs your face,
Three's company too.

Keep whistling that tune as you push towards an opening match with Western Michigan, where you will use three quarterbacks: freshman Tate Forcier, freshman Denard Robinson, and junior Nick Sheridan.

Only, three’s a crowd. 

Maybe with four starts under his belt in ’08, you feel Sheridan has earned the right to take some snaps. Perhaps it was QB coach Rod Smith’s quote (via Phil Steele) on Forcier, stating he has “some of the best mechanics from a high school kid in a while.”

Or maybe you feel you need a spark from Robinson, a lightning-quick QB who chose you over Urban Meyer and Gator Nation. 

Wake up and smell Mr. Roper.

A three-QB system? This doesn’t paint a picture of success, but instead an inkblot of Big Ten obscurity.

Look at past history in college football. Heck, even a two-headed monster at the quarterback position has resulted in more problems than accolades. 

While most may want to point to the Tim Tebow-Chris Leak combo that brought home championship hardware, others should look at the problems first.

Look within the Big Ten conference for starters, with combos like Justin Zwick-Troy Smith at Ohio State and Daryll Clark-Pat Devlin at Penn State. With the Nittany Lions alone, Devlin, after not getting nearly enough snaps, decided to transfer to Delaware in the most recent offseason.

First off, in today’s sports world, so many athletes come as a package deal: skills plus ego. A player’s ego gets a boost by an assortment of promises spouted out by coaches (in order to help bring a recruit home). Plain and simple, in this day and age, empty promises lead to disappointment and frustration—not always, but often enough.

Any of these quarterbacks could become frustrated with this situation and bolt for another school.

Look at point two, familiarity. Every player plays with a different “style.” Look at the NBA star who can only drive to the right; it’s the same in football, only worse. 

Think about it in the QB world. An offensive line has to adjust too. Players get accustomed to hard counts, plus changes in rhythm that emphasize an audible coming up. 

By changing the signal caller so frequently throughout a game, a team is just asking for a sloppy performance, chock-full of illegal procedures, blown plays, and false starts.

Take three, in the form of leadership. One example can be swiped from last night’s NFL Jets-Ravens preseason game, where Jets coach Rex Ryan discussed how announcing a quarterback sooner than later is important for building a leader and a voice for a team.

Where would the leadership be with the Wolverines in this situation? One guy’s in, he’s pumping the offense up and leading a drive, and then...out he goes. Next guy in, incomplete. Third guy, a QB draw for three yards. The beat goes on.

So do the Ann Arbor faithful a favor, Rich Rod, and make a decision on who Michigan’s starting quarterback is...and do it now, instead of telling the AP that playing three guys “would be neat."

You aren’t Brett Favre here; this decision should be easy as one, two, three.

Enjoy talking about college football? Stop by First and Big Ten, where yours truly, plus two others from B/R (Kristofer Green and Tim Cary), love to do just that...

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