- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the season just days away, the appearance of the conjunction "or" became commonplace Monday with college football programs across the nation using it to cement the uncertainty surrounding position battles on official depth charts.
In the Big 12, Texas Tech listed Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes as either/or possibilities on its official depth chart, which was released Monday. There are obvious advantages to keeping a starting quarterback secret, namely creating unknowns for the opponent. Yet some coaches prefer to hand the keys to someone early, announce the decision and simply move on.
In Tuesday's Take Two, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon discuss if coaches should name a starter at quarterback or keep people guessing.
Take 1 -- Max Olson: Keep people guessing
When it comes to naming starting quarterbacks, the needs of fans and reporters do not outweigh the strategic interests of a football coach. That, in a nutshell, is why I can't feel offended when a coach waits until the first snap of the season opener to publicly name his guy.
We already know who's going to get the start for Texas Tech. We know who won the battle at Kansas State. We knew Tyrone Swoopes was going to be the guy for Texas before Charlie Strong said so Monday. The plans are all in place by now.
I appreciate when head coaches are transparent about their plans, but I certainly don't expect it. Being evasive about which quarterback will start is usually just a ploy to prevent the opponent from knowing what to expect. How often does that actually pay off? Rarely, I'm guessing, but these coaches are getting paid to win. If they think concealing the choice at QB until pregame helps their chances, best of luck to them.
Another reason why I don't get upset by the deception: The public announcement really isn't what it used to be. Thanks to all the message boards and Twitter feeds out there, faithful fans typically know who the QB is way before the coach makes the call publicly.
There are definitely situations out there right now -- Alabama and Michigan stand out -- where it seems the coaches legitimately don't know what to do. And that's fine. Go into the opener, play multiple guys and figure it out. No use in naming one starter if you're not sure you actually believe in him, right?
I just don't buy the line that making a public QB declaration is helpful for players' confidence and team chemistry, either. They know what's going on. They usually know which way a coach is leaning. Like me, most of them don't see the need for the fuss.
Somebody has to start Saturday. Whoever does has the implied faith and confidence of his coach, whether that coach says it out loud or not. We all just need to be patient and, you know, get it over.
Take 2 -- Brandon Chatmon: Name a starter
I think coaches should name their starter at quarterback once they've made their choice.
But it has nothing to do with feeling like the fans or media have the right to know. We don't. After all, when was the last time a coach was about to be fired because of a losing season but his job was saved because he announced his starting quarterback a week before the game? He's paid to win games, period.
Nonetheless, Max hit the nail on the head when he said we already pretty much know the answers to any uncertainty at the quarterback position anyway in this age of social media. Not to mention one bad half could completely erase all the offseason success of the starter and make the backup quarterback the guy for the rest of the year. In a situation like Tech's, Mahomes could start the opener but Webb could be the guy by the time Big 12 play hits. And everyone would know it.
I also think going ahead and naming a starter could help that quarterback get comfortable with the pressures of being "the guy" and the outside noise that comes with that distinction before the season kicks off. True enough the team and coaches already know he's the guy but that's not all that goes into it. The starting quarterback is the face of the program so why not let him get used to it as soon as possible? It's a huge part of the job description.
It would be better if coaches just named a guy and moved on. I just don't feel like there's a significant advantage gained by not naming a starter and the positives of doing so and anointing that guy as the face of the program as early as possible outweighs any small advantage gained in the season opener.