Sep 14, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday (12) and quarterback Jeff Tuel (10) before a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
You have to choose. If you're a fan of this team, make a decision. You either love Connor Halliday and want him to start forever, or you love Jeff Tuel and want him to start as long as he has eligibility. And when you make that decision, dig your heels in. Don't half-ass it.
It's a common debate, one we've seen play out over and over, just about every year. Keep or fire Paul Wulff? All aboard the Mike Leach Express (tm) or pining for the days of Wulff? Brink or Swogger? And where's Gary Rogers at? That drive against Auburn was amazing.
Debates like these kill me. It's a runaround, in which participants on both sides stoutly defend their positions to the death. Stats are bent, narratives are formed, and nobody wins. And we're going to endure this for another week, if not the whole season.
Every time Halliday makes a poor throw, you'll hear it. Every time Tuel appears to hold the ball too long or takes the underneath route, you'll hear it. With uncertainty in the air -- again, Leach will never talk about his quarterback, preferring not to ruin the surprise -- the calls will be loud.
Here's the thing: It doesn't matter. What Washington State has is two capable quarterbacks with different enough skill-sets. Tuel can run and has a wisdom about him that keeps mistakes at a fairly low level. Halliday has a cannon and can fit balls into small spaces. Both have their issues and both have their upsides, but each is capable of taking the reigns.
The truth of the matter is there was never a quarterback competition. Halliday took a shot to the liver and was essentially shutdown during the spring. It was over after that first day, though Halliday probably wasn't quite ready when practice began anyway. Tuel took the most reps and became familiar with the offense and its timing, thus winning the job. Halliday has been playing catchup ever since.
And while the calls from the outside reached a feverish pitch this past week, you'd never know it watching them. Tuel is the big brother, shouting encouragement and taking mental reps while dealing with whatever injury he has. Halliday did the same through spring and fall camp. If there was a flying Halliday and Tuel chest-bump counter, it probably would've been broken by mid-August. All of the quarterbacks operate like family.
The desire to pit one against another is strange to me. I like Tuel and want to see him succeed. I like Halliday and think he has an incredibly bright future, and also want him to succeed. Those aren't mutually exclusive. And there's no real need to create this battle royale -- two quarterbacks enter, one will leave beaten and broken, relegated to calling in signals.
If Tuel is healthy this week, I'd expect him to get reps (as usual). And I wouldn't be surprised if Halliday takes his reps, too. The "controversy" will continue to swirl, and every decision will be second-guessed and bludgeoned to death.
Just let this all play out. It's not as though there's a huge gulf between the two quarterbacks. The real issue on the offensive side of the ball remains the play up front, with the timing and familiarity following.
And digging in to argue, fighting tooth and nail about which quarterback should start, is only going to drive everyone crazy.