By Matt Mangum
email@example.com or on twitter @matt_mangum
A couple of months ago I read an article detailing why Jake Heaps should consider transferring to the University of Utah. Since that time, there has been a lot of other speculation about what Jake Heaps may decide to do with his football career following this season. I don’t buy for a minute that he is not seriously weighing out his options. I hope that nobody reading this article beleives that either. However, I think he would be making a mistake if he left.
Where is he going to go? Jake’s time at BYU has been stormy. In two years he has worked with two very different OCs and inside of two different offensive systems. It was pretty clear that Robert Anae had little to no confidence in Jake Heaps last year. Towards the end of the season he opened things up a little bit. However, I left that season with the feeling that Anae did not feel comfortable giving Heaps the keys to the car. The entire situatuation in 2010 was a debacle. In my opionion it was as much of a coaching failure as anything. The team started the season without a single quarterback prepared to play. So after Anae got fired and Doman was promoted to OC, Doman put together a new offensive system that should have been a place for Heaps to thrive. There were two problems with this: Heaps was not ready for primetime at the beginning of 2011 and neither was Doman’s offense. This combination was a little bit of a nightmare to watch.
So where am I going with this? Jake Heaps and the staff never seemed to dedicate any time to simply developing Jake Heaps as a quarterback. He has some great raw skills. If this is going to work, he needs time to bring those skills up to the FBS level. At BYU he has an OC with confidence in Heaps’ future. He has already spent a year working with the new system. If he transfers to another school (wherever it may be), he’ll have to sit out a year anyways and he’ll have to learn a third offensive system. He would also not learn some of the intangible lessons that he will learn if he stays. If he does stay, the right move is to redshirt him next year. This would allow him time to bring his skills up to the FBS level and time to mature as a football player and leader. I believe that this combination gives him the greatest chances of success with his remaining years of eligibility. Moving to a new system will set his career back two years with only two years of eligibility and will not provide the same growth opportunity as a leader. Staying and redshirting is likely the most difficult thing for him to do. But in the end, doing the difficult thing will likely produce the best results.
So what about Bronco? Is he going to leave for UCLA or some other crazy situation when 2011 ends? I think Bronco may get some attention from schools and his name will be mentioned in some of these conversations. The main reasons that I believe Bronco would consider leaving are: BCS access and the ability to create a new coaching staff from scratch. I believe that many of Bronco’s comments about conference realignment indicate that he would love to be with a program that had access to the BCS system. I think that is more important to him than TV contracts. He’s a coach, he wants to win championships. For this same reason, I think he would also prefer to coach a team in a conference. I am absolutely putting words into his mouth here. But, if I were in his shoes, that’s how I would feel. He also had to wait for several years before he was able to get a coaching staff together that espoused his philosophies. Were he to start at a new program, he could likely put together a similar staff of his own right away.
I think the chances of Bronco leaving are higher than the chances of Jake transferring. If Bronco gets some attention, it would be from a program with real clout. I don’t think those same types of programs are going to be coming for Heaps. I think that Heaps transferring would be a mistake, but I am not sure that I could say the same thing about Mendenhall leaving. He could be offered a job at a prestigious program for a higher paycheck. From a professional standpoint, it would be a good move for him. Heaps on the other hand is a college sophomore who wants to play in the NFL. Transferring to a lesser program where all of his current problems may still exist, will not help him got to the NFL. A Bronco departure would be worse for the program than a Jake Heaps transfer. I think this is why the mere thought of a Bronco departure gets me concerned. Is the program really in danger of losing Mendenhall? I’m not sure. But I’d feel much better about it if we knew Bronco was going to stay for the long haul. The two are in very different stages of their respective careers but could be facing some similar choices. I hope they both stay, but I’m afraid that one or both of them will decide to leave.