In one week, the USC Trojans will be preparing for their second game of the 2013 season, but with just days until the opener kicks off, head coach Lane Kiffin still hasn’t announced who will be the quarterback.
Oklahoma, in a similar position of replacing a long-time starter, just announced its new quarterback with a week before game time, but Sooners head coach Bob Stoops said earlier this fall that his coaching staff would probably know who it would be before the decision was revealed.
Kiffin has to know at this point which quarterback deserves the job. If he doesn’t, after watching them in practices and games for the last three years, USC might be in more trouble than anyone realized.
Given Kiffin’s history with the media, though, it wouldn’t be surprising if he just didn’t announce a starter at all. Practices are closed to the media now that fall camp is over and game week practices have begun, so reporters won’t know what goes on inside unless a player or coach tells them. USC could feasibly stay mum about the starting quarterback while beginning to rally the team around one guy behind closed doors.
Kiffin has taken any measure necessary (and, sometimes, utterly unnecessary) to “maintain competitive advantage.” Neither Wittek nor Kessler has extensive film for opponents to study yet, but Kiffin certainly doesn’t seem above withholding that information, under the guise of “We have to make sure we make the right decision,” until just before kickoff.
(Again, if the Trojans need that much gamesmanship against Hawaii, there are bigger problems.)
But what if Kiffin doesn’t know? Or what if the player he wants to start and the player who earned the start are two different quarterbacks? Could the coach be so convinced that his own future rests on the outcome of this decision that he’s afraid to make the wrong one and has been unable to make one at all?
Nah, he’s probably just stringing the media along as long as possible because he can.
For the team’s sake, though, he needs to make a decision, even if he doesn’t tell anyone outside the USC Trojans football program what it is. As ESPN’s Arash Markazi revealed, Kessler and Wittek have very different styles of play and of leadership. The rest of the team deserves ample time to adjust to one or the other. If they don’t get it and the offense struggles, once again Kiffin will only have himself to blame.