A healthy dose of questions for the Pac-12
May, 8, 2013
By Kevin Gemmell | ESPN.com
If there was one major theme connecting Pac-12 teams this spring, it was this: to be determined.
Quarterback competitions? To be determined.
Position battles? To be determined.
Success (or failure) of scheme installations? To be determined.
Spring typically doesn't tell us much. The spring of 2013 told us less than usual. It was the season of tight lips.
Here's what we do know. Everyone felt as though they had a productive spring. Everyone still has a lot to work on before fall. It's the Crash Davis school of public relations.
Was anyone really expecting Oregon State coach Mike Riley to reveal his quarterback decision at last week's spring meetings?
No. (Though we were actually kind of hoping he would.)
Were any Oregon players going to say, "Gosh, Coach Helfrich is great. But we sure do miss Chip Kelly."
Any Cal defenders going to say, "The 4-3 just isn't our kind of football. It might work at other schools, but not ours. Thanks, but no thanks."
Spring is a time when high hopes are matched only by the high content of clichés being spouted.
The Beavers have possibly the most intriguing quarterback competition in the nation because both of the players in the mix -- Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion -- are both past starters with fantastic performances and shaky outings on their résumés. The outcome of their competition is pending.
Colorado is trying to install a pistol offense under new coach Mike MacIntyre while also searching for a quarterback. There were six that entered camp and that number has slimmed down to three -- but only because one quarterback is transferring and another suffered a season-ending injury. How's this for uncertainty: MacIntyre refers to his depth chart as a "pencil chart." Nothing screams unanswered questions like the easily-erasable.
Arizona's QB battle? Heck, Rich Rodriguez said he might start three different guys the first three games of the season.
USC, Washington State, California? All intriguing competitions. All with inconclusive results. At least, so say Lane Kiffin, Mike Leach and Sonny Dykes. No doubt, fans have their own opinions on the matter.
So how are we to interpret this? One way is to praise the coaches for not jumping to decisions and giving the competitions their due diligence. Let it play out through fall camp and may the best man win. That's probably the case with a couple of them. But it could also speak to the fact that no viable candidate has truly emerged yet as the go-to guy. That's not particularly worrisome in May. But if there is still uncertainty in late August, then that's a problem.
Because the obvious truth is that we won't know until the season kicks off how much teams have really improved. Washington State's offense put up monster numbers in the spring and fall scrimmages last year, but petered in Week 1 against BYU. The Arizona schools were in full transition mode and ended up winning bowl games. And we know how USC's season failed to match its spring/fall perception.
"To be determined" isn't exactly what fans want to hear when they are starving for news about their team. But it beats the alternative -- sucking down sugar-coated news only to find it leaves you stuffed with empty calories.