Former USC Trojans quarterback Max Wittek has notified the program’s coaches he will transfer from Southern California to another Division I program to complete his final two years of eligibility. Wittek is a fourth-year junior who will graduate in the spring, and therefore be eligible under NCAA graduate transfer rules to finish out his final two years of eligibility at a new program without having to sit out a year as other non-graduate transfers are required to do.
Naturally, as has been par for the course for several years now with their volatility at quarterback, Wittek has been linked as a possibility for the Texas Longhorns, who have a massive experience gap between de facto starter David Ash and to-be sophomore Tyrone Swoopes. True freshman Jerrod Heard arrives in the fall, but little is known whether he would actually factor into the conversation for snaps in 2014.
Here’s the deal:
Depending on the perspective you choose to adopt, the addition of a quarterback like Max Wittek to the Texas roster — and to the year’s QB competition — could either be negative or positive.
Let’s Take the Positive Perspective, First
I’ve argued in previous articles that the experience gap in the Texas QB corps — one which, unfortunately, has become a yearly commonality — has the potential to derail what, on paper, could be one of the most anticipated seasons in Texas football history. There’s a new buzz around the Forty Acres with the arrival of Charlie Strong and what he brings to the table in terms of culture change, and the promise of a renewed sense of pride in winning, in taking winning seriously.
Injecting Wittek into a quarterback competition that includes only one semi-proven quantity in Ash could be just what’s needed to light a little fire under the back-sides of Swoopes — as the nominal backup, but a guy with a chance to win the starting job — and also to Heard, who all of the sudden would have two hills to climb instead of one just to earn a job as the team’s backup.
While Strong didn’t have a direct role in recruiting any of the current Texas QBs, he could only hope that Wittek’s presence would be a motivating factor which would encourage each of them to rise to the occasion, play at their peak level, and truly win the position entering the 2014 season.
Unfortunately, in today’s all-to-common environs of entitlement and assumptions the actual effect could be the diametrical opposite.
What About the Negatives
The negatives of adding Wittek to the mix on campus are simple enough.
While Wittek didn’t necessarily do anything to set the world on fire with USC and was mired in a constant competition for playing time with Cody Kessler, his presence could be especially harmful to Swoopes and Heard if their confidence levels aren’t where they need to be. This is particularly true with the departure of both Mack Brown and Major Applewhite who had major roles in bringing them to Austin to begin with.
In the worst case scenario, bringing Wittek to Texas could have the exact opposite effect of that intended, leading both Swoopes and Heard to re-consider their options — possibly transfer (see Connor Brewer, Connor Wood, G.J. Kinne, Jevan Snead) — and leave a gaping hole where the signal callers should be on the Texas roster.
This would be a shell-shock to the nascent Charlie Strong regime, and just the type of occurrence which would raise the eyebrows of Texas fans who are already weary enough.
On the face, this article is about what could happen if Texas’ evident interest in Max Wittek came to fruition, but in reality, it would be true of any new quarterback injected into the Longhorns’ mix from the outside.
It’s certainly something to watch and a storyline that could shape the success of Charlie Strong’s first season in Austin.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and the Hiring Manager for Rant Sports.
H/T to Wescott Eberts of Burnt Orange Nation who wrote an outstanding piece on this subject as well.