As the 2013 college football season is coming to a close seniors around the country are preparing to play their final college football game and for some their final football game ever. It is official that Nebraska Cornhusker quarterback Taylor Martinez has seen his final season as a Husker, and any potential for a medical redshirt this season went out the window when he played in the road loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Martinez has not exceeded the maximum of game appearances to qualify for a sixth season at Nebraska, but the game against the Gophers was played in the second half of the Huskers’ season which makes Martinez’s efforts in that loss the deciding factor in ruling the medical redshirt an impossibility.
As Martinez’s career as a Husker signal caller comes to a close the discussions of his legacy at Nebraska have already began to circulate. Martinez has been a nationally celebrated quarterback at times having been mentioned in discussions for the Heisman Trophy in both of the last two seasons. The question still remains what about whether his career will be celebrated or easily forgotten. The truth is that Martinez’s legacy nationally will most likely differ from his legacy with diehard members of Husker nation.
Nebraska football fans were not as enamored by Martinez nickname “T-Magic” as others around the country may have been. Fans would have preferred the young quarterback come into his role as a starter when he was a freshman with a little more humility, but Husker fans who have been put off by Martinez’s perceived bravado need to glance into the not so distant past at another young Husker quarterback whose personality was questioned when he was a young starter. Heisman trophy winner Eric Crouch left the team early in his career after what was perceived to be a fit over whether he would be named the team’s starter or not. It took then head Coach Frank Solich a trip to Omaha, Nebraska to convince the eventual record setting quarterback to return to the team.
Crouch eventually won over the hearts of most of the Big Red fans so it should never have been a question of whether Martinez would be able to do the same. Martinez is possibly a more athletic football player, and his passing ability is far more effective than that of Crouch. Martinez, believe it or not, even has greater top end speed than the exhilarating Crouch ever had.
What separates Crouch from Martinez is simple: Victories. Yes fans are well aware of the dozens of records that Martinez has broken as passer and runner at Nebraska, but he has not done the one thing that Nebraska fans want which is consistently win. Martinez has not won a conference championship in his tenure at Nebraska. Nebraska likes to believe that conference championships are the standard for their program, and the fact that a quarterback as hyped as Martinez has not won one will not soon be forgotten by the Big Red faithful. Not only has Martinez never won a conference championship, but he has not even won a bowl game. This is unacceptable to Husker fans.
Needless to say Martinez will not soon be forgotten and over time his inability to win big games will be forgiven because of his service to the program, but the fact remains that he will not enter the conversation of Husker greats like Turner Gill, Steve Taylor, and Eric Crouch. Martinez falls well short of the uppermost echelon of Nebraska quarterbacks in National Champions like Jerry Tagge, Tommie Frazier, Brook Berringer, and Scott Frost. Martinez may be a top ten quarterback in Nebraska History, but he is in the third tier of Husker great quarterbacks.