As the blessing-turned-distraction that has become the Davis Webb saga for the Colorado football team continues without a clear conclusion, it is perhaps past time to ask the question.
Is Webb, a one-year hired gun, worth all the trouble for a program still attempting to ascend in the Pac-12 Conference? Unless Webb, a graduate transfer eligible to play immediately, reaffirms his commitment to the Buffs with black-and-gold sincerity in the coming days, the Buffs would be best served to move on.
Throughout a process that has seen Webb make an early and enthusiastic pledge to the Buffs only to schedule recruiting visits to Cal and, reportedly, Auburn, Webb has made one thing clear: This is about Davis Webb.
That is not meant as a criticism. A big-armed quarterback who threw for 5,557 yards and 46 touchdowns during his time at Texas Tech, Webb has just one season to make an impression upon scouts from the next level. It’s certainly his prerogative to find the situation that best serves that desire. Of Webb’s suitors — Colorado, Cal and Auburn — CU is probably the least suitable, particularly if Sefo Liufau returns to full health for his senior season.
Yet the desire to find his best fit is an approach Webb should have utilized in the first place. Just three weeks ago Webb told BuffZone.com, “I love the Buffaloes and I want to be the quarterback for the 2016 season.” Apparently that love extended only so far. Two weeks later Webb visited Cal.
This is not a 17-year old high school junior trying to make a mature decision amid the tumult of recruiting chaos. This is a 21-year old senior who already has experienced all the highs and lows of major college football, from setting freshman passing records in the Big 12 Conference to winning the Holiday Bowl MVP to finding himself benched in favor of Patrick Mahomes. If Webb wanted to shop for the best fit, good for him. But that should have been his message from Day One.
For the Buffs, Webb’s potential rebuff of the program comes with an air of disappointment, a wringing of hands for what could have been. That shouldn’t be the case at all.
Even with a healthy Liufau, Webb would have been the most talented quarterback on the roster. Yet after his public ambivalence toward his previous commitment, Webb’s first task upon his arrival would be to prove to his teammates just how much he wants to be a Buff, instead of studying the playbook and working on timing routes with his new receivers.
Moreover, in a healthy Liufau there already is a player under center who has earned the respect of the entire CU locker room. In Webb, it’s easy to wonder if his reaction to a football season’s inevitable adversity will be to help his teammates through the turmoil, or to make sure he continues to impress individually.
Over the course of a 12-game schedule, Webb might make the difference in one or perhaps two games in the win column. For a program still in building mode, missing those games isn’t necessarily end of the world. Yet for the job security of head coach Mike MacIntyre, that disparity could be enough to make the difference between a bowl appearance and the end of his run in Boulder.
In that light, MacIntyre’s continued pursuit of Webb is understandable. Webb’s wishy-washy commitment to his commitment is not. The early goal at the end of the 2015 season was bowl-or-bust in 2016. That was with a redshirt freshman, Steven Montez, waiting in the wings and Liufau on crutches from a foot injury. That goal hasn’t changed, and minus Webb that outlook still has improved with Liufau showing signs he will be ready to go this fall and Montez coming off a solid spring, despite his uneven showing in the spring game.
Webb’s previous enthusiasm for CU spurred visions of Pac-12 upsets and the end of the Buffs’ nine-year bowl drought. That can still happen. But if Webb doesn’t pledge his devotion soon — for real this time — the Buffs should dismiss the quarterback saga as a quirky flirtation instead of ruing it as an opportunity lost.