Stupid 2020 strikes again — and now we really have something to complain about. Or do we?
Two of the most engaging words in all of sports were supposed to be brewing at Boise State: Quarterback controversy.
Just hearing the words makes you feel giddy like Christmas morning, excited with anticipation and fired up for new and wonderful possibilities.
Starter Hank Bachmeier — “the old favorite toy with a few banged up dents’’ — missed two games with COVID.
Backup Jack Sears — “the cute new puppy under the tree’’ — played masterfully in his starting debut.
One of the most popular players on so many football teams is the backup QB, and Sears was perfect in his role, being the supportive team guy in the background — and playing lights out when opportunity crashed down the chimney.
And bingo, just like that, we were supposed to have a full-blown quarterback controversy.
Media will always embrace that storyline. Don’t judge.
Fans and social media absolutely dove into the deep end with countless opinions.
Coaches played coy. Teammates wouldn’t talk.
No doubt about it, this was a classic QBC.
Until it wasn’t.
We’ve been robbed.
Blame it on stupid 2020.
Or maybe we should blame common sense, whatever that is these days. Because, in reality, there was never going to be a quarterback controversy.
Bachmeier spent 10 “very frustrating’’ days in isolation with no symptoms, doing pushups in his two-bedroom apartment, attending Zoom meetings, watching film and playing with his 4-month-old puppy — a 70-pound mix of Great Pyrenees/Maremma.
“It was frustrating not being able to play with my brothers,’’ he said. “I mean Jack played a great game (against Air Force) and the offense played a great game, but it’s definitely tough when that’s happening.’’
Bachmeier called Sears’ bust-out moment “one of the best performances I’ve seen and I was really happy for him and really happy for the guys.’’
Sears continued to play well until getting dinged in the head early in the BYU loss.
In private, coaches mock the notion of a quarterback controversy.
This is Bachmeier’s team.
And as long as he’s available — and productive — that won’t change anytime soon. He returned mentally sharp for the Colorado State victory, and will start Saturday night at Hawaii.
Sears, the celebrated USC transfer who once beat Bachmeier’s team in a California championship game, remains the backup.
Boise State offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Eric Kiesau addressed the situation this week. Keep in mind that football coaches live week-to-week, and spend that time promoting competition. All positions are open Mondays through Fridays. Competition decides who plays on Saturdays. Then you do it all over again next week.
But actions speak volumes, and when Bachmeier returned to his starting position for Colorado State and beyond, it was obvious that Boise State wants nothing to do with a quarterback controversy.
A healthy competition? Sure, but nothing else.
So I asked Kiesau the obvious: Who’s your No. 1 quarterback?
“That’s a tough question, a tough question, because Jack played really well in his first start ... so there is some talent behind Hank. It would be unfair to the room, everybody in that room, not just Jack, if I said Hank was the go-to starter, hands-down, no matter what.
“Does he get to go first? Does he play more? Yes. ... To say he’s the hands-down starter, that could be tough to justify because of what Jack’s done when he’s had his opportunities.’’
Kiesau elaborated with reasons why Bachmeier has the edge over Sears.
“Experience and knowledge and command. ... That’s where I think he may have a little leverage, with his command, how he runs the offense and how the players look up to him.
“Again, I don’t want to take anything away from Jack because Jack’s doing a good job, too. It’s a good problem to have when you have a 1-2 punch like both those guys that can play at a high level.’’
Bottom line: Keeping Bachmeier at No. 1 is the absolute right thing to do. If for no other reasons, you don’t want a flaky track record when recruiting the next big QB star to Boise State.
A man’s word matters. A coach’s word on the recruiting trail is even more important. When a coach tells a young QB recruit he can come to Boise State and work hard and land opportunities to be a star, he better stick to those words.
That’s why Bachmeier landed the surprise start in last season’s bowl loss to Washington, IMO. Coaches were sending a strong message: This is Bachmeier’s team — and future recruits will get the same honest treatment.
Statistically, Bachmeier has done more than enough to be the starter: He’s 9-1. Enough said. Sears is 1-2 in his college starts, dating back to his USC days, but looks rock-solid and has yet to throw a college interception. Not bad.
Here’s the best part: Bachmeier, with generous NCAA eligibility rules these days, could play at Boise State through the 2024 season. Sears could be here through 2022.
Combined, that’s a big future and a ton of football games.
Plenty of time to brew another quarterback controversy.
But it certainly doesn’t exist right now.
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. and Bronco Game Night after every Boise State football game on KTIK and KBOI 670 AM. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at email@example.com.