With Greg McElroy having played his final collegiate snap, the day that we all knew would eventually arrive nearly two years ago when Phillip Sims committed to Alabama will indeed come to pass in the coming months. With the looming quarterback battle in mind between Sims and A.J. McCarron, largely glossed over in the aftermath of Alabama's thumping of Michigan State was this little nugget in a news and notes round-up by Izzy Gould:
Asked about the potential that one of the quarterbacks could transfer if he learned of losing the QB battle, McCarron was bluntly honest.
"It definitely could happen, I think, but that's nothing on my mind," McCarron said. "I'm going in being a leader, I'm going to take this team and this role as if it's my team already.
For most Alabama fans, the quintessential quarterback controversy from recent memory will undoubtedly be Andrew Zow v. Tyler Watts. Zow was signed in the 1997 recruiting class, and Watts followed the next year in 1998 as a highly-touted recruit out of Pelham, redshirting as a true freshman in the 1998 season while Zow took over the starting job early in the year. After Watts' redshirt came off in 1999, the two embarked on a three-year long quarterback controversy that embroiled the entire fan base, and to hear some tell it the team as well.
It's hard to say exactly how the latest quarterback battle will play out, but I think it's safe to say that this will not be a remake of the Zow v. Watts battle.
In blunt terms, this won't drag on for three years. These two will battle for the job, one will be named the starter and the other will almost certainly transfer somewhere else on fairly short notice. The mixture of raw talent, ambition, and opportunities for playing time at other schools will almost certainly prove too much to remain on the bench in Tuscaloosa. The fact that McCarron is already being so forthcoming about this being a legitimate possibility should tell you all that you need to know.
For the UA coaching staff, the stakes are high to make the right decision from the outset. The worst-case scenario here in this race is to erroneously dub the inferior player as the starter, while the superior player transfers elsewhere on the way to stardom. Hopefully Saban and company will wait until just before the start of the 2011 season to announce a starter -- or perhaps find both playing time next season -- and for now the goal has to be to keep both on the roster through the end of the 2011 season. Moving forward in 2012, though, there is probably very little that the coaching staff can do. At the end of day, one will start, the other will likely leave.