Not often does a starting quarterback have a day like Tennessee's Jonathan Crompton had on Saturday against UCLA.
Crompton was 13-of-26 for 93 yards, zero touchdowns, and three official interceptions (although a fourth was called back due to penalty) and was involved in a QB-center fumble exchange where he stood and watched as UCLA recovered instead of making the smallest attempt at recovering the ball.
Oh, and Tennessee was 4-of-16 on third downs and 2-of-4 on fourth downs on Crompton’s watch.
I say that QBs don’t often have days like that, and they certainly don’t as a rule. However, sometimes quarterbacks do have a bad day. Be it an interception to end the game, failing to convert a game-winning drive, or just average play whenever better things are expected, QBs sometimes lose football games.
What usually happens is those QBs take responsibility for their actions. They put the team on their shoulders, and they admit mistakes that they made in their personal game while vowing to not let it happen again.
That’s most QBs.
That is not Jonathan Crompton, however.
Let’s look at some of Jon’s post-game comments vs. other quarterbacks that had off days.
Here are Jon’s comments after this week’s game against UCLA:
"Like the coaches said, we really didn't get into our groove on offense. And obviously when you don't, then this is the outcome. The good news is that we were still in the game in the end. We had four turnovers and still came up one yard short."
After the UCLA game in 2008:
"We don't need to get our heads down because we played good."
After the 30-6 loss to Florida last season where he went 18-of-28 with 162 yards, an INT, and a fumble:
"We shot ourselves in the foot. We should have won the ball game in my opinion. We gave up 14 points in the red zone, and they scored seven points off turnovers. We fumbled on the first drive, and that gave them three more. Those things change the whole momentum of the game.
"Our offense a lot of the times was clicking, and we can move the ball and not many people can stop us except ourselves. I think our defense played a good game tonight and held them and we gave them points as an offense."
Okay, now let us look at the post-game quotes of some other well-known quarterbacks.
Tim Tebow after a 31-30 loss to Ole Miss in 2008, where he went 24-of-38 with 319 yards and one touchdown, plus seven yards on 15 carries, two more touchdowns, and one fumble:
“I’m sorry, extremely sorry. We were looking for an undefeated season. That was my goal, something Florida’s never done here. But I promise you one thing: A lot of good will come out of this.
“You have never seen any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season, and you will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You’ll never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season. God bless.”
This is Erik Ainge after the 2007 SEC Championship game, where he threw two fourth quarter INTs, one for a touchdown for LSU and one when the Vols were inside the 20:
“I shouldn't have thrown the ball out there. I mean, just as much as he made a good play, I made a bad decision. We played good, we protected all night. The guys played hard, I throw an interception for seven points when it's a tie game, it's going to get you beat. It's on me.”
New York Jets rookie QB Mark Sanchez on his INT that didn’t even cost the Jets a win on Sunday:
“It should’ve been a shutout, so I owe them one. It was just a costly mistake, really unfortunate. Even after my big rookie mistake, the encouraging thing was that Coach [Rex] Ryan, Coach [Brian] Schottenheimer, the whole offensive line came over and said, 'We're not going to change our approach. We're still going after these guys.'”
Last but not least, former Tennessee QB and Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning, following a 14-12 WIN over Jacksonville on Sunday:
“I can’t say enough about the defense. I told them all face to face how we have got to do our part better on offense and what a great job they did. I thought we had to lean on them a little, a few too many times today. They came through every time, which was huge but hopefully we can ease a little pressure off them and score some more points and give them a little bit of relief from here on out.”
Anyone reading those quotes should be able to see the problem for the Tennessee Volunteers and Jonathan Crompton. It’s not his arm; it’s not lack of natural ability. Crompton’s biggest enemies are his attitude and his mouth.
Until new head coach Lane Kiffin realizes this and makes a change, Tennessee’s season is going to follow the same path as last season.
Crompton has been given every opportunity to change. Crompton has been given the chance to take the reins and be a leader. Crompton was voted a senior team captain this year by his teammates.
The student section, in the midst of his awful physical performance on Saturday, gave him a chance.
With the Vols down five and taking over with just over 1:40 to play in the game, the student section began chanting, “Let’s go Crompton.” Not V O L S Go Vols Go, not Orange...White...the student section rallied behind their quarterback and chanted for HIM to succeed.
Not only did he fail them on the field, but with his post-game attitude and post-game comments such as, “The good news is that we were still in the game in the end. We had four turnovers and still came up one yard short,” he failed them as a leader as well.
In Jonathan Crompton’s mind, he doesn’t make mistakes; “we” do. In Jonathan Crompton’s mind, he doesn’t need to get better; “we” do. In Jonathan Crompton’s mind, it’s “ME” against the world.
In the real world, however, when it comes to making a change and ending the Crompton experience for Tennessee, its players, and its fans, the season motto says it all: