Gary Pinkel felt fine letting a quarterback competition go on through spring and early fall camp, but when mid-August arrived and the start of the season was only a few weeks away, Missouri's head coach knew it was time to call the race and name James Franklin his starter.
With his health concerns hopefully behind him, Franklin was the obvious choice to take the reins for the Tigers. He was one of three players to represent the school at SEC Media Days in July and was already voted one of the team captains on the first day of preseason practice two weeks ago. As Pinkel said in a news release on Wednesday, "James has shown that he's very capable of leading this team at a high level, and we fully expect him to do that."
Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk's unimpressive scrimmage performances, completing 18 of 37 passes over two such affairs, was likely the final straw for Pinkel. Though Mauk may develop into the quarterback of the future in time, that time isn't now. He'll take some snaps this year, but the job will be Franklin's, who only two years ago threw for 2,865 yards and finished fourth in the Big 12 in passing efficiency behind future NFL picks Robert Griffin III, Brandon Weeden and Landry Jones.
For Tigers fans, the hope is that the disappointment last season was a fluke, a confluence of poor health and unfamiliarity with a new conference as Franklin saw his completion percentage, yards per attempt and touchdown-to-interception ratio numbers drop on the Tigers way to a 5-7 record. Should he regain his 2011 form, Missouri should be much more competitive. He'll have help from the running game with Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy. The feeling is it's only a matter of time before Dorial Green-Beckham develops into the All-American receiver everyone thought he'd be when he was the No. 3 overall recruit in the country in 2012.
Now a senior with sights on a future in the NFL, Franklin can put a quarterback competition behind him. He can now focus on the final two weeks before the start of the season as the Tigers scrimmage for the final time on Thursday and then turn to the task of facing Murray State Aug. 31.