Tate Rodemaker was robbed of an opportunity to join the pantheon of iconic backup quarterbacks

Must read

If anyone should be feeling the price of inflation today, it should be backup quarterbacks, whose stock just skyrocketed. Last week, Matt Rhule made headlines in his press conference by announcing that the (NIL) cost for “a good quarterback in the portal costs $1 million to $1.5 million to $2 million right now.” Lamenting those costs at sleeping football powerhouse made Rhule sound like a thrifty Chris Rock walking up to Isaac Hayes at a rib joint counter, asking how much for one rib, and then paying for it from a stack of Benjamins. However, the question most elite teams should be asking themselves after this weekend is “how much for one backup quarterback?” [Ed. note: $10]

Which NFL QB gets benched next? | Agree to Disagree

Florida State lost the $2 million difference in revenue between a $6 million ACC payout if they’d reached the College Football Playoff versus the $4 million they’ll be awarded for playing UGA in the Orange Bowl. The rest of the nation lost a chance to possibly witness an unscripted plot twist on the field. An entire chapter of Super Bowls and national champions has been authored by backup quarterbacks.

The College Football Playoff Committee should have known better than to disregard the human factor when they gave Florida State the boot after Jordan Travis went down with an injury. Instead, they surveyed Tate Rodemaker and decided his future for him. In doing so, they robbed Rodemaker of a legacy-defining opportunity to join the pantheon of backup quarterbacks who’ve rewritten expectations. A brief glance back at the present and the past provides a litany of examples that would have demonstrated how clipboard holders have altered the course of seasons in unexpected ways.

For instance, 32 years ago, Washington was forced to turn to Billy Joe Hobert after Mark Brunell went down before the season. Hobert was spectacular enough to lead the Huskies to the national title. Imagine if Brunell’s injury occurred three weeks before the end of the season and a committee decided Miami deserved to be the undisputed national champion?

One of Rodemaker’s problems is that he didn’t have the pedigree either. If he’d been a former five-star recruit, Florida State would have been given more leeway. However, in limited playing time, Rodemaker was fine. A year ago, Rodemaker led Florida State to three touchdowns in a second-half comeback against Louisville after Travis was knocked out.

There’s more than one way to win a national championship. Florida State didn’t need 2014 Cardale Jones throwing for a season’s worth of yardage in one half while lighting up Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. They simply needed a showing akin to First Team ACADEMIC All-American Craig Krenzel in 2002. Florida State is too talented to need an All-Universe starter to win two games against upper-echelon competition.

In the NFL ranks where it’s even more difficult to hide subpar quarterbacks than in college where defenses can be more easily outschemed, Nick Foles, Jeff Hostetler, and Trent Dilfer have all won Super Bowls after spending most of the season as understudies.

Dilfer took the helm of a Ravens offense that endured a five-game long touchdown drought, completed fewer than half of his passes in the postseason, and admitted he looked like a high school quarterback in practices.

During the 2017 season, Carson Wentz was an MVP frontrunner until he tore his ACL in Week 17. Nick Foles assumed the reins and became a piece of Philly sports lore spearheading the Eagles’ offense to a 41-33 win over New England in the Super Bowl. A year earlier, Belichick humiliated offensive wunderkind Sean McVay and former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff.

Jeff Hostetler is the Patron Saint of Backup QBs. He filled in valiantly for Phil Simms for the last half of the Giants’ 1990 season, then toppled the Buffalo Bills in the Wide Right Super Bowl riding the coattails of Lady Luck and the aforementioned Belichick’s defense. He also replaced Gus Frerotte when the Redskins quarterback infamously rammed his head into a wall celebrating a touchdown, and then nearly wound up backing up Trent Green over Kurt Warner, but chose to retire instead.

Warner launched a whole Hall of Fame career after maxing out as a career backup into his late 20s. According to college football’s playoff committee, those shouldn’t have been determined on the field, they should have been washed out of history in a smoke-filled room. Tom Brady replaced Drew Bledsoe in 2001 and was a solid game manager, but nothing close to the GOAT he morphed into over the next 20 years.

Generations from now, we should look back at this playoff selection committee’s four-team playoff era like we look at early 20th-century elections without primaries. During Florida State’s 19-game winning streak, they’ve outscored opponents 734-316. Their defense put the clamps on a high-flying Louisville offense averaging 33 points a game. Brock Glenn looked subpar, but there’s a reason there aren’t many legendary third-string quarterback performances in the backup QB historical archives.

Well, except for Brock Purdy, who started slow as a third-string quarterback, but has taken off with the San Francisco 49ers. Despite these instances of backup quarterbacks rising to the occasion, the playoff selection committee tried to predict how a 21-year-old would respond if given a month to prepare.

The selection committee can’t account for the unpredictable. If Florida State had one loss or if half the team was injured in a pileup, you could justify downgrading them due to injury. For all that concern over the dropoff from Travis, he wasn’t voted a Heisman finalist. However, calculating that a team who has found a way to win every single week won’t be able to do so on the biggest stage doesn’t add up.

Follow DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex

More articles

Latest article