Beathard, Rudock delivering for respective programs after transfer fallout
You just don’t see it happen.
A starting quarterback wraps up his second season as starter and figures he’s got an offseason to improve, and be the guy as a senior.
But then the coach makes a January announcement that surprises fans, media and even players. He plays the wildcard. He rolls with the upstart backup, instead. The coach puts more than just his reputation on the line. His job is at stake.
Naturally, the replaced starter transfers. By some miracle, he isn’t restricted from an intra-conference transfer. Both quarterbacks go on their separate ways to and lead their respective programs.
By now, you should know that’s in reference to the odd sequence of events that led to Jake Rudock’s transfer to Michigan. Kirk Ferentz’s decision to roll with C.J. Beathard was controversial at the time. Right now, Ferentz appears to be cashing in on his gamble. It’s hard to argue that any quarterback in the B1G has been better than Beathard in the first month. He has the best quarterback rating of anybody in the conference and is leading an undefeated Hawkeye team.
Still, Rudock is the one leading the higher-ranked, higher-profile team on the rise. He had his first big game in Ann Arbor, and the Wolverines were vaulted into the Associated Press poll after they didn’t receive a single vote the week before.
The spotlight is brighter. Every move Rudock makes is magnified playing in front of 108,000 people. But in an odd way, Rudock has more job security now than he’s ever had.
After his rough start to the season, Michigan fans were calling for a switch to Shane Morris. With the way Rudock was holding the offense back, the passing game didn’t look much different than the Devin Gardner/Brady Hoke days.
But this was a new team with an adjusted perspective. And most importantly, this was a new coach with leverage. Jim Harbaugh had the opportunity to stand behind Rudock and give him the confidence he needed.
“To be clear, Jake Rudock’s the best quarterback,” Harbaugh said before the BYU game. “Not by a small margin. He’s our best quarterback.”
That was Harbaugh’s gamble. He, however, was in a position to make that call because he wasn’t in Ferentz’s situation. That was exactly what Rudock needed.
Ironically enough, it took until he was a graduate transfer on a one-year stint at one of the nation’s traditional powerhouses for Rudock to ease into the right situation.
And credit Ferentz for making the move in the timely fashion that he did. He knew Beathard was his guy in January. Why blow a bunch of smoke Rudock’s way to have him compete all summer for a starting job he wasn’t going to get? It might’ve seemed like a slap in the face to Rudock at the time, but really, it couldn’t have worked out better.
Rudock had maxed out his potential at Iowa. Many thought Ferentz, who had one season above .500 in B1G play after the 2009 Orange Bowl season, had done the same. He knew what he had in Rudock. He had to see what he had on Beathard in 2015 or else there might’ve been a new coach in Iowa City in 2016.
We’re still only a month into the season, so this is all subject to change. Beathard could struggle against B1G teams with better pass rushes. Rudock could revert back to his high-turnover ways that surfaced early in the season.
But right now, that doesn’t appear likely.
They won’t square off unless they lead their respective teams to Indianapolis. With how both teams have started 2015, that certainly isn’t out of the question.
In the high stakes world of Power Five college football, gambles usually produce a clear winner and loser. One side celebrates its winnings while the other tries to rebound from defeat.
For once, it appears both sides came out ahead.