Frederickson: Mizzou's QB competition might cause more harm than good
AUG 13, 2013 7:29p ET
From the outside, the story appears to be at its end. Cue the credits. Fade to black. Pencil senior captain James Franklin in as the Tigers' starting quarterback and let's strap in for year two in the Southeastern Conference.
Yet with less than three weeks until Mizzou hosts Murray State to open the 2013 season, Gary Pinkel insists the quarterbacks on his team continue to jostle for their chance to lead the Tigers' offense.
"When we make a decision, you'll know it," Pinkel told reporters after the team scrimmaged Saturday.
Pinkel has not yet publicly picked between Franklin and Franklin's most likely challenger, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk. He doesn't appear to have made the decision privately, either.
And while the coach can seem a bit bristly when asked for updates, he is the one who most recently thrust this topic back into the spotlight by repeatedly telling reporters Franklin's captaincy (an honor bestowed by the players) carries no weight in his quest to start for the third consecutive season.
Around this same time, Mizzou offensive coordinator Josh Henson said he hoped the staff would need the first four or five fall practices to finalize its decision on a No. 1 quarterback. The practice count is in double digits now.
"I would direct all quarterback questions to Coach Pinkel and Coach Hill," Henson said Monday. "Those guys coach them. I'm going to let them handle all that."
According to Hill, there is no deadline.
"There are a lot of teams that don't decide until the Saturday morning before the first game," he said Monday.
"Each day, we are evaluating every single guy. We're looking for consistency, and someone to move the football team. When that person steps out of the pool, out of the pile, then we will all know it. And everybody else will know it, too."
I get it, kind of.
Quarterback competitions happen. Some schools (example: Indiana) have as many as three guys in the mix for the starting job. But forgive me for saying this one feels forced, and feels like it has the potential to do more harm than good.
Yes, an injury-prone Franklin struggled in 2012, but let's not forget about a 2011 season that oozed with promise. As of today, he is No. 1 on the depth chart again, and he played four times as many snaps with the first team as Mauk did during Saturday's scrimmage.
Even Mauk, who in 2011 set the nation's all-time passing yardage record as a prep star in Kenton, Ohio, seems to realize he isn't beating down the door.
"Right now we are all in the same place we were," Mauk said Tuesday. "James is No. 1. We are just going to keep competing until the season comes up."
But at what cost?
Signs point toward Franklin being the guy. Signs also point toward the lack of an endorsement from Pinkel beginning to take its toll.
"It's whatever," Franklin said Tuesday when asked for an update on the competition.
He is tired of being asked for updates, right?
"I guess so," he said. "I don't really care. I'm just coming out here and playing. Whatever happens, happens."
See what I mean by flat?
Follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at email@example.com
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