by Matt Mangum
email@example.com or on twitter @matt_mangum
It became official yesterday that Jake Heaps was leaving BYU. It has been interesting to follow some of the conversation on twitter regarding Heaps’ big move. I’ve recently discussed the idea of Jake Heaps transferring here on the blog. In that post I wrote that I felt it would be a mistake for Heaps to transfer. I still feel that way. I think it’s unfortunate that this has worked out this way, but at the end of the day Heaps has to do what he thinks is best for him. Having already discussed what I think a transfer means for him, I am now more interested in what his decision means for BYU football.
The answer is: not much.
Aside from the Nelson versus Heaps debate, the loss of Heaps changes very little in the short term. Most would agree that Nelson was the likely starter going into the 2012 season. He would have lasted until he got hurt or faltered. At which point Heaps may have had a chance to finish off the schedule. Many people feel that Heaps would have done better with the schedule BYU had in the second half of this season than he did with the first few games. But that belief is anchored in the quality of the opponent, not in the development curve of Heaps. Heaps has not progressed as expected. Does that mean he will not in the future? No. He just isn’t there yet. Neither of them were ready in 2010. Heaps was not ready when 2011 began. Nelson didn’t blow him out of the water, Heaps simply did not perform.Was it a scheme problem? Partially. But a better scheme doesn’t make throws more accurate, make decisions in the pocket or stay focused after taking a hit. Heaps just wasn’t ready in 2011. I don’t see the gap between them being big enough in 2011 or 2012 to make a huge difference. If the gap had been larger, there would never have been a question about who to start.
In the long term, Heaps’ transfer will have negligible impact on recruiting. For the most part BYU recruits from the same places and from the same pool of players repeatedly. Most of these players will know the story and will see it for what it is. It was a singular bad situation. This will be ancient history in 18 months or less. BYU also relies heavily on finding students who love the program and want to play specifically at BYU. Those players will not be dissuaded by Jake Heaps’ decision. Ben Olson didn’t stop Jake Heaps from coming to BYU and Jake Heaps won’t stop Tanner Mangum from coming to BYU.
I don’t wish anything bad on Jake Heaps. I don’t held this decision against him. For me, he simply becomes a quarterback at another school. It’s not at all personal for me as a fan nor should it be. Early last year I was among those that felt his talents were being squandered under the two quarterback system. I wanted Anae to give him the keys. He got the keys and made some incremental progress. This season I was disappointed with his lack of continued growth. I was continually mocked on the Rise and Shout podcast for being a Riley Nelson hater. But the fact of the matter is that when Nelson came in, the offense immediately began to get in the endzone more frequently. When that happens, the choice is clear. The team has to do what is in their best interest to win football games and Jake Heaps has to do what he feels is in his best interest to get to the next level or achieve his other goals. That’s what happened here. That’s life.