Fans want to boo him, coaches want to bench him and alumni want to compare him to Chris Simms. All Garrett Gilbert wants to do is to succeed but after his recent performance against BYU, it seems the keys to the offense has been given to Case McCoy and David Ash.
It was a rollercoaster of a season last year and this offseason was supposed to restore our faith in the quarterback position once again. As a fan base, we have been spoiled for the past seven years thanks to Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Vince was hailed as the man to lead the Longhorns to their first national title in decades and Colt was going to be the hero that would bring our boys back to the spotlight again.
Gilbert's role was supposed to be Colt's role. He was supposed to replace a Heisman finalist quarterback just as his predecessor did. Colt was under unbelievable pressure after the 2005 season when Texas defeated USC for the national title. Yet beyond all odds, he became the winningest college quarterback in history and made two trips to New York City for the Heisman presentation.
It was a story that wasn't supposed to happen. Gilbert was expected to be better than any quarterback this university has ever seen. After all, Colt played in a state championship game but Gilbert played in two and won them both. Beat writers in Austin were expecting him to have a better 2010 than Colt's 2009 season.
But it didn't happen and what little faith Bryan Harsin had restored in our confidence was shattered last weekend.
I wrote in mid-August that Mack Brown needed to get serious about Gilbert's future and it was only days later that he was announced as the starting quarterback against the Rice Owls. Harsin had assured us that he won the job fair and square but that he would be on a short leash this season.
That leash was yanked after two interceptions and almost no yards in two quarters against BYU.
Case McCoy took over, led the team to a win and is likely to be the starter against UCLA this weekend, leaving Ash to retain his packaged plays. Gilbert will be third string, a spot he has never held in his career. I'm not saying that Gilbert is blameless in this debacle but he is in a situation that is almost unheard of in college football. Florida quarterback John Brantley and USC quarterback Matt Barkley have been heavily criticized but it doesn't compare to the amount of coverage that the Texas situation has been given.
Gilbert was destined to fail from the beginning and there's no denying it. Even if he had made it to a bowl game last season or won nine games, people would be calling for his head. Make no mistake that Gilbert has not seen his last snap on the field but his expected role on this team has changed forever. He's no longer the hero, the savior or the one quarterback to rule them all. After back to back All-Americans, there just wasn't any room for failure in the eyes of the Texas fan base.
Expectations have never been higher for a player and he just wasn't capable of living up to them. We made the choice to expect Colt to be just like Vince and we hit blackjack. But when we did the same thing to Garrett, we went bust.
It's such a shame because Gilbert deserves better. For someone that had put in so much work into his high school team and now college team, it's just not right that he has been reduced to a third string role. But that's the way the cards were dealt and you either go all in or fold.
He deserves the criticism but not the boos from the fans in Darrell K Royal-Memorial stadium. He deserves the chance to start again but it must be his to earn. He deserves our respect but not our belittling. He's still our player and to use the words of another Big 12 coach: he's not a professional athlete and doesn't deserve to be kicked when he's down.