PSU coaches should not treat QBs with kid gloves
There’s no I in team. There’s also no QB in team.
No one is above the entire team.
If one player is messing up so badly that he’s a huge reason why a team is losing games, then that player has to be benched.
Even if it’s the quarterback.
OK, so most everyone agrees that not only will Sean Clifford be benched in favor of Will Levis this week, but also that it’s the right thing to do for Penn State.
What Neil and I are discussing today is whether making a change at quarterback is a bigger decision than, say, making a change at linebacker or safety.
The answer is obviously yes. The quarterback, as we all know, is the most important position in sports.
But I believe there’s a difference between placing so much importance on the quarterback position and placing so much importance on the person playing quarterback.
In a lot of games, it can become clear that the quarterback is not playing well and is hurting the team. So many coaches, out of an unfounded fear of creating some kind of controversy, wind up being all too willing to sacrifice the game and sacrifice everything that everyone on the team has worked so hard for just to spare one guy’s feelings.
If a starting QB gets pulled, he needs to pull up his big boy pants and understand why: That he wasn’t good enough that day.
Coaches ask every single other player on the field to accept that responsibility. Every one.
It’s hypocrisy at the highest level to hold one person above everyone else on the team. But it happens all the time in football with the quarterback.
If a linebacker misses a bunch of big tackles, he’s going to get benched.
If a cornerback gets burned on a bunch of big passes, he’s going to get benched.
What does it tell those guys, and everyone else on the team, that the quarterback will stay in the game even if he’s killing the team with bad interceptions or fumbles?
It tells those guys that the rules that apply to them don’t apply to the quarterback. That they have to compete like crazy to keep their starting job, but if the quarterback keeps messing up in a game, he’s immune to it because the coach doesn’t want to — gasp! — start the dreaded QB controversy.
So what if there’s a quarterback decision to be made every week. Seriously. So what.
We’ve all been told forever that that’s a terrible thing. That you’ll shatter the confidence of the starting quarterback.
Hey, if you’ve listened to Clifford talk in recent weeks, a lot of his words have sounded more like arrogance than confidence.
“If you’re not motivated after two losses when your back is against the wall, I don’t want you here,” Clifford said after the loss to Ohio State. “I’m not going to go like that. … That’s not how I operate, that’s not how the people around me operate.”
OK, so maybe the people around Clifford don’t operate well when he’s throwing terrible passes that are getting picked off and leading to big deficits and ultimately losses.
Sometimes quarterbacks need to be brought back to reality and humbled a bit, instead of thinking their job is safe no matter what.
Just like every other player on the team.
Cory Giger is editor of NittanySportsNow.com and host of “Sports Central” weekdays from 3-4 on WRTA. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.