Coach Lane Kiffin has announced Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will be co-starters in the Season Opener vs. Hawaii. Yet practically all credible observers have come to the same conclusion, Cody Kessler has won the quarterback competition and deserves to be named USC’s starting quarterback. According to Arash Markazi the competition wasn’t that close.
...if this were a heavyweight championship fight, he continues to contend his scorecard would have it even through 10 rounds.Of course, that's not exactly true to anyone who has watched USC practice this summer. USC's quarterback battle has been a fairly lopsided affair from the opening round, and it would take some creative judging to change the final outcome one week before USC opens the season.
Kessler has clearly been the better quarterback in practices and in both scrimmages. Wittek might have appeared to be the incumbent after starting the last two games of the season, but if the job is truly going to go to the best quarterback -- and not the one with the highest ceiling or most experience -- Kessler is the choice, and it hasn't been as close as most expected.
Kessler had been doing everything right, but his two interceptions in Wednesday’s practice are the fig leaf Kiffin needed to give Wittek another chance. Upon hearing the news Kessler said, "Each of us wanted to win, but at the end of the day it’s Coach Kiffin’s decision and whatever decision he thinks is best for the team, we’re going to go with that and trust in it."
You’ve got to give it to the kid, he’s a gamer and a real Trojan, but is his trust misplaced? Kessler knows he won the job fair and square, but Kiffin just moved the goalposts. In a must read write up of the competition, Gary Klein comes to some very interesting conclusions.
Max Wittek boasts a similar Orange County pedigree. So when the Santa Ana Mater Dei High quarterback committed to USC in April 2010, many in Kessler's hometown of Bakersfield told him he was foolish even to consider joining the same recruiting class.
Kessler knew that if he chose USC, he would be competing not only against Wittek, but with that pipeline and all the real or imagined bias that went along with it.And that, perhaps, tells you about all you need to know about Cody Kessler.
Looking back, the handwriting was on the wall when Kiffin refused to put Kessler on the field during the Sun Bowl debacle.
It was New Year's Day, the morning after USC's embarrassing Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech last season, and Cody Kessler was on the line.Wittek had started for the second time in place of the injured Barkley and struggled mightily in cold and windy conditions in El Paso, Texas.Kiffin never turned to Kessler. "Whatever Coach thinks is best for this team," Kessler told reporters afterward.
Kessler and Wittek have three years of eligibility remaining, but they will both burn a year as soon as they take a snap in Hawaii. There are rumors on campus that Wittek will transfer if he doesn’t get the job. Wittek has been improving lately so It’s not surprising that Wittek thinks he’s still got the job that was his to lose. More from Markazi.
Kurt (Kessler) was still a big part of Max's life growing up, traveling to most of his sports events, and knew his son could be a great quarterback. In fact, one of his friends and business partners thought so, too. Now, that normally wouldn't mean much, except for the fact that friend was Joe Montana.After speaking with Montana, Kurt set Max up with Clarkson, and when it was time to pick a high school, Clarkson recommended Max move out to California to attend Mater Dei, with the long-term goal of becoming USC's starting quarterback and following in the footsteps of Clarkson's other former Mater Dei protégés. Wittek actually looks and plays more like Carson Palmer than Leinart or Barkley. He is 6-foot-4, 235 pounds with a strong arm.
It’s clear that Kessler does not mind competition, but it’s looking very much like someone has his fat finger on the scale. Here is a quarterback that could start for any team in the Pac-12, but "whatever Coach thinks is best for this team" might doom Cody to 3 years of backup duty behind Wittek; and all it would take is a couple of interceptions.
USC can’t have two quarterbacks. It’s time for Cody to think about his own best interest. He didn’t pass up all his other options to ride the pine for Kiffin. Word is Notre Dame needs a versatile quarterback, Kessler transferring there could be the backup plan that Irish loving Pat Haden would love.