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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

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Quickly updating the bloodless coup out of Tempe that has installed El Presidente Rudy Carpenter at the head of Arizona State's offensive junta:

The Journal Star in Lincoln tosses a kerosene bomb on the fire by citing - though not identifying, or even quoting - reports from "[t]wo sources close to the Nebraska program" that Husker offensive coordinator Jay Norvell had phoned suddenly deposed quarterback Sam Keller about joining on in Lincoln this fall. Keller has his redshirt year and could start where the similarly jaundiced Harrison Beck was once penciled in following ZacTaylor's graduation. Or even, SMQ guesses, if Taylor somehow sticks around, as Keller would represent an upgrade and a perfect fit in Bill Callahan's dreaded pro style, West Coast offense of a thousand quick slants.

No confirmation, though, as one source says "it's not a done deal," and Keller's dad, Mike, a longtime pro football executive and acquaintance of Callahan, said the Huskers are merely on the list. Mike Keller, apparently a "Sports Dad" to only slightly less of a degree than the patron saint of overbearing fathers, Marv Marinovich, has sent "information packages" on his son to 10 other schools.

Getting less play is the stance of Coach Dirk Koetter, who, after axing Sam the role of the puppet parliamentary head under the murderous sway of guerilla paramilitaries (his players), seems to be the only one not assuming the senior slinger is bailing, according the East Valley Tribune:

"Whatever we need to do to accommodate Sam Keller, including coming back to the team, we'll do," Koetter said on Sunday. "If Sam wants to come back and be our No. 2 quarterback, we’ll be glad to have him."

Er, um, OK, coach. But if the decision to humiliate him in this fashion wasn't based on anything that happened on the field, why would you be glad to have him? Such a drastic demotion is a certain sign of off-field trouble, though there hasn't been a hint of an arrest or of academic snafus. No suspensions. Just a sudden, unexplained demotion. The automatic assumption, then, is that Keller is a poor leader and/or a jerk, that this somehow escaped Koetter's attention but was, in fact, so obvious and drastic when presented by a handful of teammates that it required immediate action. In other words, if you're pulling a guy off the field for extracurricular deficiencies, and not actual performance, why keep him on the team at all? He seems destined to be viewed - fairly or not - as a cancer, or at best a distraction. If the other players aren't going to play for him - again, something Koetter should have already picked up before naming him the starter to begin with - this isn't going to change if he has to come in for a hobbled or ineffective Carpenter. And it isn't going to keep the lack of leadership/jerkiness out of the locker room.

Keller's dad certainly picks up on this, but the fact that it was so late-breaking puts his son in a catch-22:

Mike Keller said that returning to ASU would be an "abhorrent situation," but it’s a decision that his son is prepared to make.

He labeled as "overblown" the notion that the Sun Devil players were not confident in Sam Keller’s leadership.

"With so many players on the team, Sam was voted as a captain," Mike Keller said. "These were all the guys that voted for him. In all the talk of players choosing sides, I think the anti-Sam faction is probably a small number, almost a discountable number."

Sam Keller, for his part, has stayed away from class in order to preserve his chances of getting on at a new school this semester, thereby getting in precious practice time in preparation for assuming the starting role in a year - hookey, perhaps, but conscientious hookey. And SMQ's professor's always said there was no suc h thing...

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8:14 AM

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And don't let the name fool ya - second guessing the phenomenal athletic feats and split-second decisions of college kids under extreme physical duress is for every day of the week.

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