It’s not surprising to find that fans and media disagree with my opinion on how Tom O’Brien handled the Russell Wilson situation. What was surprising to me was just how many people disagreed - how large a majority seemed to side with O’Brien and his decision to cut loose his All-ACC quarterback. That he had to make this move for the good of the program.*
As we are all often guilty of, I dismissed away the other side. Fans are simply fans, towing the company line and backing up a coach who just led the team to nine wins and a bowl victory. The media wants to remain on good terms with O’Brien and taking him to task for a difficult decision isn’t the best way to keep getting good quotes or sound bites from the head coach.
And certainly there are people who disagree with me who fall in those categories, but those excuses don’t cover everyone. Why is my opinion at odds with so many rational thinking people who cover or root for NC State?
The only answer I can come up with is hope and fear.
I understand the logic behind O’Brien’s decision. He didn’t want the uncertainty of Wilson’s future hanging over the program. He wants to build towards 2012, when a lot of pieces will be in place for an ACC title run and the breaking in a new quarterback would make that goal much tougher to attain. I can see the line of thinking that led to Wilson becoming a Badger – and it makes perfect sense.
But I fear the unknown. Plenty of people look at Mike Glennon and see a sharp guy with all the physical tools it takes to be a great quarterback at this level and potentially the next level as well. But all I see when I look at Glennon, who hasn’t thrown a pass in a meaningful game since high school, is 6’6” of cannon-armed unknown. The last four-star quarterback recruit to start for NC State was Harrison Beck.
Between the ears is what separates a quarterback with great tools from a great quarterback. And none of us can know what will go on between Glennon’s ears when he takes a snap in front of 60,000 people and has to make a play in a pressure situation.
Clearly not everyone shares my fears. They see Glennon as the next great hope, the guy with the make-up and tools to get NC State to a height it hasn’t seen in decades. They embrace the uncertainty of the situation in a way that I’m simply not capable of doing.
I admire those people, the ones that can stare at uncertainty and paint a picture of all the glory that it holds. Perhaps it’s too many nights weaving uninspired stories of equally uninspired losses, but I’m not capable of dreaming those dreams.
That’s why I can’t leave the Russell Wilson saga alone.
*I strongly dislike this idea. Specifically those words, ‘had to’, as if the entire program would have crumbled had O’Brien handled things differently. Whatever O’Brien decided, I’m confident he’d have maintained a firm grasp of his own football program.