This time, when I heard the news a new quarterback had transferred to Wisconsin, I didn’t even blink.
In what has become the third annual announcing of a transfer quarterback at UW, it came as little surprise when new football head coach Gary Andersen added yet another quarterback – junior college quarterback Tanner McEvoy – into the mix Monday for the starting job next fall.
Following a season that saw three different quarterbacks take the helm for the Badgers in 2012, one of the most critical questions throughout this offseason and likely to continue into spring football was: Who could Badger fans expect to start come Aug. 31 against Massachusetts?
And the speculative answers to that question were sharply divided.
Some would pick redshirt sophomore Joel Stave for his strong and accurate passing, others would say senior Danny O’Brien deserved another shot, while another group would argue for sixth-year senior Curt Phillips after his ability to guide the Badgers to their third-consecutive Rose Bowl. Finally, a few might even hope for four-star redshirt freshman Bart Houston to get his first chance under center.
In steps, McEvoy and the competition has just been stretched to five.
But before everyone gets in a buzz about the new heights dual-threat, and former South Carolina recruit, McEvoy will be able to carry next year’s team to – as has been the case with each of the last two transfers – it seems at least worth mentioning a cautionary tale when this type of situation arises.
For one prime example, look no further than Madison’s own Camp Randall Stadium.
In 2011, after a disappointing loss in the Rose Bowl to Texas Christian, UW lost two-year starter Scott Tolzien – now a backup for recent Super Bowl starter Colin Kaepernick – and seemed destined to have a rebuilding year as a result in the 2011 season to come.
But in stepped Russell Wilson, a transfer from North Carolina State, and everything changed.
Wilson would go on to have one of the most successful years in Wisconsin quarterback history in 2011, throwing 33 touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes and winning 11 games on his way to Wisconsin’s second-consecutive Rose Bowl appearance.
Unfortunately, Wilson was only eligible for a single year. So when it came time for offseason 2012, UW had yet another quarterback void to fill.
This time, however, Maryland transfer Danny O’Brien couldn’t help the Badgers live up to the hype.
Despite earning the starting role in September, a number of poor team performances – in particular a weak offensive line – and average statistics caused O’Brien to be replaced at halftime in only his third start of the season by Stave.
O’Brien would not start another game for the rest of the season, and would appear in only a handful of games after that, falling all the way to third string when a Stave injury saw a third quarterback, Phillips, eventually become Stave’s replacement.
If we fast-forward to 2013, even though McEvoy enters the mix with high expectations, he is by no means a guaranteed answer to the quarterback question, and it is important fans remember so this time around. In fact, his addition to the roster may actually be aggravating the problem, and that is before you even look at the talents he brings to the football field.
While the addition of McEvoy certainly adds another strong candidate at quarterback, Andersen is now left with the tricky situation of evaluating four or even five quarterbacks this spring who all arguably have a solid shot at the starting role.
If last year is any indication – when a three-way battle for quarterback proved too difficult to uncover the best fit at the position for UW right away – this spring will be even more difficult, especially when you consider it should be a higher-caliber and more experienced set of players this time around.
It seems worth wondering: How will Andersen decide who gets enough reps under center to prove himself this spring?
Fans will just have to sit back and hope the right fit for UW’s offense doesn’t get lost in the mad dash when the dust settles and the starting job has been handed out.
This year’s transfer saga also has one other difference, and this one is not so trifling.
Unlike the past two seasons, where then-head coach Bret Bielema – a coach known for his good player relations – already had the backing of his quarterbacks when each of his two new transfer quarterbacks were brought in, Andersen doesn’t have the same previous relationship developed with this group Bielema had.
As a result, it begs the question as to whether Andersen may have jeopardized his relationship with his existing quarterback corps in a move that could be interpreted as him bringing in his own transfer quarterback before giving the other players a chance to prove themselves.
And so with that all said, after a season full of controversy at the quarterback position looming over the Badgers’ heads and spring practice not too far off, it appears this spring will be no different.
Will McEvoy swoop in and earn the job?
Will one of last year’s starters get another try?
I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Nick is a junior majoring in journalism and political science. Have your own opinion on the new quarterback situation? Share it with Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @npdaniels31.