Tony Jones: Fresh faces benefit college football
The golden age of college football wasn't really that long ago. You know, the days when freshman quarterbacks were seen and never heard from. At least not on a national contender.
Most remember how the story went. Want to be a quarterback, son? Well go on and redshirt for a season, learn the playbook, learn the offense and sit behind an upperclassman for another two seasons. As a quarterback, you used to run the risk of being in a program four years before you saw the field.
Anyone watching a television this season knows that isn't the case anymore.
This column first takes you to Oregon, where Marcus Mariota looks poised and confident while running the Ducks' offense. Yes, DeAnthony Thomas cures a lot of ills. But Oregon coach Chip Kelly is on record saying Mariota is the most poised quarterback that he's ever coached.
How about Notre Dame, where the fighting Irish are pushing toward a berth in the national title game with Everett Golson leading the way. On Saturday, he scored the game-tying touchdown against Pitt. Two weeks ago, he impressed a national audience by torching Oklahoma's secondary.
It's trending locally, too. Utah has Travis Wilson. BYU had Taysom Hill. Utah State's Chuckie Keeton nearly led the Aggies to a monumental upset on the road in his very first collegiate start.
As time progresses, so does technology. Guys enter college more ready to compete. They are stronger. The explosion of elite summer camps at the high school level yields more players being physically and mentally ready to compete.
Not only that, recruits expect to play early when they commit to a school, and coaches are coming under fire for not doing so.
Rick Nueheisel's refusal to play a freshman named Brett Hundley last season went a long way toward his demise as UCLA's head coach. Hundley, now a redshirt freshman, has been one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12 in 2012.
College football fans should enjoy the rest of the season, and the excitement the quarterbacks are bringing. The youngsters are breaking stereotypes by the game. And some of the best teams in the country are benefitting.