Kevin Lopina’s words are worth revisiting.
That’s because they might offer us a glimpse into what’s ahead for quarterback Carson Coffman.
In an interview last November with the Collegian, Lopina, a former K-State quarterback who transferred to Washington State, was critical of the way coach Ron Prince handled the quarterback situation.
Lopina said Prince gave Josh Freeman special treatment, and that he felt the coaches had their minds made up for the future, despite declaring an open competition in the spring. He said he didn’t believe he was getting a fair opportunity to compete. He left soon after coming to that realization.
“I was just like, ‘I don’t want to be a part of this if they are going to treat me different than they treat everybody else,'” Lopina said at the time. “You could just tell that there was a little bit of favoritism toward (Freeman).”
When Prince took over as coach, he inherited a team that had four quarterbacks on the roster. Then he added Freeman, his prize recruit, to raise the total to five. However, by the time the regular season rolled around in September, that number had been whittled down to two.
First to go was Lopina. Next up were Allen Webb and Allan Evridge, two quarterbacks who combined to take all the snaps a year earlier.
Lopina said he and Evridge saw their repetitions get cut, and that they weren’t getting an equal chance to prove themselves. In a way, he said, Prince left them no other choice but to leave.
“I guess you could say that coach Prince kind of ran us out,” Lopina said.
Prince can’t do that to every quarterback who wants to challenge Freeman for the starting job. He shouldn’t be Freeman’s shield and armor.
After Saturday’s Spring Game, Prince did not offer praise for Freeman’s stinker of a game. Then again, how could he?
What struck me is that he did not offer many reasons for Freeman’s poor performance, nor did it seem that he was holding Freeman accountable. It appears as if the starting job belongs to Freeman – no matter what – and that there’s no debating it. That’s how Lopina saw it too.
I don’t know if many fans will have a problem with that. But one gets the impression that Coffman might.
Following his Spring Game performance, Coffman sounded intent on competing for the starting job. He said he felt his showing helped him in the race for the starting position.
“I think I made a statement,” said Coffman, who doesn’t hide his competitive spirit. “I’m definitely not going to concede to Josh.”
Lopina did not want to either, but he had no choice and decided to transfer. Evridge did the same. The race against Freeman was one they could not win. Prince threw in the towel for them.
It makes you wonder if Freeman truly does operate by a different set of rules than his teammates. If that’s the case it’s only a matter of time before the locker room is divided. One player should not be granted immunity when an entire team is subject to losing their starting spots.
Freeman is a better quarterback than Coffman, but I’d still rather see him prove it under intense pressure. He needs to be pushed, not protected. Let the best man win.
After all, that’s what open competition is all about. It provides for competitive tension and brings out the best in players.
Prince’s words, not mine.
Jeffrey Rake is a junior in print journalism. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.