ANYONE WHO thought the BYU Cougars would have decided on a No. 1 quarterback by now can toss that idea out with last week's casserole. The Cougars haven't decided, and furthermore, they aren't talking.
As far as they're concerned, it's a nonstory. Ask a BYU coach about the "quarterback controversy" and he'll stare as if you asked about his annual income.Totally inappropriate.
Four games into the season, the Cougars are back where they were a year ago - which is to say doing damage control on another quarterback, um, debate. They're taking the Fifth. They're saying they had this planned all along. And once again the most talked-about issue in Provo is who should lead the most storied passing program in NCAA history. Last
year it involved Paul Shoemaker, Kevin Feterik and Drew Miller. Now it's between Feterik, who has started every game this year, and Miller, who reportedly considered transferring, then changed his mind.
Thus, the Cougars are back to where they started - which is to say still looking for a team leader.
Saturday's 43-9 win over Murray State did little to resolve anything. The Cougars got off to their typical slow start but finally got rolling, amassing 372 offensive yards. It was your ordinary case of big guys beating up the little guys. In the process, the Cougars used both quarterbacks for nearly equal time. They played Feterik the first and third quarters and Miller the second and fourth. Everything was even-Steven. The coaches did nothing whatsoever to tip their hand as to who was their favorite.
"Like I said all along, we have two quarterbacks and we need both if we're going to win this thing," said coach LaVell Edwards. "And I thought today was a nice example of that."
It was also a nice example of the Cougars getting irate over a fact of life at BYU: that the quarterback situation is always up for discussion.
By now they should be used to this. It isn't like it hasn't happened before. In the late '70s, the debate was between Jim McMahon and Marc Wilson. Similar situations have developed through the years: Sean Covey or Ty Detmer, Steve Lindsley or Bob Jensen, John Walsh or Ryan Hancock or Steve Clements. What team doesn't want to know ahead of time who will be its leader?
Still, that hasn't stopped the Cougars from declaring that they're content with the situation, and it's the media and public that are upset. And so this week when Miller's father announced his son was thinking of transferring, the Cougar coaches cringed. Their fears had been realized: a media circus.
"It was a distraction," allowed Miller. "It was stressful, but it was a lot less than a lot of people made it out to be. It was a little bit blown out of proportion - a lot blown out of proportion."
In truth, the inclusion of Miller in the lineup had little to do with how Feterik played. With a I-AA team in town, it was a perfect chance for the coaches to try both out in a no-pressure situation. Even before the controversy hit this week, the coaches had decided they would split time between quarterbacks on Saturday.
Feterik finished with 141 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Miller passed for 172 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Feterik completed eight of 13 passes, Miller 12 of 19. It was a near-dead heat. But there was no question whom the crowd preferred. Feterik was booed when he threw an interception, while Miller entered to a smattering of cheers in the second period. The crowd tried too hard to blame Feterik when something went wrong and to credit Miller when things went well. Feterik left the stadium after the game without talking to the media.
"Too much is always made of the quarterback situation at BYU," said lineback Rob Morris. "If it's any other position, nobody would care. As for a quarterback controversy, I'd like to know who it was who coined that phrase. Because there's NO QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY."
Would you believe a quarterback discussion?
Thus, for the first time this year, the Cougars got a chance to test both quarterbacks evenly in a game situation. Each had his moments and minutes, and when it was over, it was all clear as broccoli soup. And the only thing clear is that they're still no closer to having a No. 1 quarterback than they were in the first place.