MTV promised fame. MTV promised fortune. MTV promised primetime cable exposure. All Todd Dodge had to do was open the doors to his Southlake (Texas) Carroll High football program for a new reality series.
That was the problem as far the Dragons' coach was concerned: MTV promised.
|Chris Leak proves doubters wrong. He can run -- really. (Getty Images)|
Todd Dodge knows about both pressure and promises. Once the schoolboy toast of Texas high school football in the early 1980s, Dodge was booed in the home opener of his senior season at Texas.
"Every quarterback should understand," he said, "as soon as they sign you, they're recruiting the guy to replace you."
Maybe that explains this season's quarterback follies -- seniors on their way out, freshmen elbowing their way in. All within the context of trying to win a title.
Whatever happened to team chemistry? For that matter, whatever happened to Chris Leak?
Dodge's experiences make him an authority this week. The coach of the two-time defending Texas 5A Division II state champions has former Dragons scattered across some of the biggest matchups of the weekend. More are on the way, including that son Riley, a junior.
Daddy Dodge knows recruiting, quarterbacks and promises.
Just like dad a quarter century ago, Riley is about to be bombarded by recruiters. What will they promise him?
That's just it. They usually don't.
"If you're good enough you'll play," said rivals.com's Jeremy Crabtree. "I don't think I've ever heard a kid, especially at quarterback, being promised playing time."
It just seems that way this season. What goes on here? There are games to be won and they're being entrusted to pimply-faced freshmen.
- During Georgia's undefeated season, Mark Richt has started three quarterbacks. Super freshman Matthew Stafford is the star of the future, which is the rub. Richt has to make sure there is a future with Stafford. An unhappy freshman can be a transferring freshman.
- There is an uneasy efficiency at Florida. Leak (79) is approaching Peyton Manning (89) for second on the SEC's all-time touchdown pass list (Danny Wuerffel is first with 114) but has been booed at times at home. Florida's sputtering offense of '05 has actually gotten better with the addition of freshman Tim Tebow.
- Chase Daniel already has saved Missouri's season -- last year. Inserted as a true freshman for a couple of series each game in place of record-setting Brad Smith, Daniel was literally the difference between a bowl and a losing season. Replacing an injured Smith against Iowa State, Daniel rallied the Tigers to an overtime win. This year Dodge's former quarterback has Missouri at 5-0 for the first time since 1981.
- True freshman Jevan Sneed is playing behind redshirt freshman Colt McCoy at Texas. Sneed has more long-term upside but for how long -- at Texas?
- Houston Nutt inserted true freshman Mitch Mustain in the second game of the season. The nation's No. 1 recruit in 2006 now is the second quarterback in Arkansas history to win his first three starts. Great for Mustain. Not great for veteran Robert Johnson who went from starter to receiver after one game.
- Kansas State coach Ron Prince seems to have chucked the season, which is not necessarily a bad thing. This week he named true freshman Josh Freeman the starter for the remainder of the year. Freeman is believed to be the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Wildcats in 30 years. Best case: Freeman gets valuable experience. Worst case: K-State (3-2) doesn't go bowling. Freeman was 11 for 33 in relief Saturday against Baylor.
"You go through all these things to recruit good players," Prince said. "They don't do any good standing on the sideline. They're just like Christmas tree ornaments if they're there next to you."
There has to be a load of counseling going on to soothe some egos. Leak had a career-high 45-yard run last week against Alabama. Two plays later here came the power-running Tebow to finish off the drive with one-yard scoring run.
"I'm a competitor, I want to be out there with my teammates," Leak said somewhat cryptically.
Stafford has been both yanked for ineffectiveness and led a comeback.
It seems an odd mix at Arkansas. Nutt landed the plum passing recruit but since 1998 no SEC team has rushed for more yards. The offensive coordinator is Mustain's old high school coach. Yet, Darren McFadden is one of the league's best running backs.
Are there enough balls to go around?
Last year, Daniel was relieving a senior who already was considered the school's greatest quarterback in history. Dodge told his former star not to assume a redshirt year when he got to college. When Daniel arrived in Columbia he found that Missouri's voluminous playbook was similar to Southlake Carroll's.
"We did not get him playing time to prepare him for this year," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said this week. "We got him playing time in case we needed him a year ago."
Pinkel is in line with other coaches when he swears he never promises playing time. Rather, like his peers, he appeals to recruits' pride and work ethic. If you're good enough, you'll play.
Stafford started the season No. 3 on the depth chart. His season to date is best described as so-so. There is competition from redshirt Joe Cox and senior Joe Tereshinski.
Unless someone steps forward, Georgia will become the latest example of the old adage: You either have one quarterback or no quarterbacks.
"If you're a college football quarterback, you better have the mentality of, what have I done for you lately ..." Dodge said. "The most popular guy in college towns is the second-string quarterback. Somebody along the way has to tell them these things. If not, they end up getting bitter."
By the time he was a senior in 1985, Dodge, who had led a 7-4-1 team the previous year, was sharing time with Bret Stafford.
"As the year went on, they phased out the old guy," he said.
Ah yes, that reminds us. What did happen to Chris Leak? He has been through two coaches, two offenses and might end up as the greatest quarterback -- statistically -- in school history.
Which won't mean much without an SEC title to his name. Something Tebow has three more years to achieve.
"I'm sure behind the scenes they're explaining things to Chris Leak," Dodge said. "They owe that to him. In the big picture, it's (playing Tebow), not a disrespect to your older guy, it's taking care of your program."
For the rest of the national notes, read Dennis Dodd's Wednesday blog.