Transferring not Brantley’s only viable option

By Adam Silverstein
December 15, 2010

After new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp concluded his introductory press conference Tuesday, the media surrounded a few players – including redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley – to gauge their impressions of the new man in charge.

However, when it came to Brantley, the real question of the evening was whether or not he would transfer after the 2011 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

“I’m sure we will still talk about it,” said Brantley, giving an indication for the first time that transferring is a legitimate option for him. “We have a little relationship with coach Muschamp from when I was committed to Texas, so we’ll definitely see what happens. [Hiring Muschamp] definitely changes a lot, but we’re going to have some conversation and figure this thing out.”

Later Brantley did a quick interview with ESPN and gave a similar statement. “I’m still going to sit down with my family after this bowl game,” he said. “I think coach Muschamp is a great coach and he’s going to have a great staff come in here. But I’m still going to sit down with my family and talk about things.”

Though he did not mention it on Tuesday, Brantley has a third road he can go down in addition to returning to Florida or transferring to another school. That road goes to the NFL and will certainly be a consideration when he meets with his family.

Think about Brantley’s options for a second. He can start over with the Gators under Muschamp and a currently unnamed offensive coordinator who will ideally install a pro-style offense, transfer to a FCS program and try to raise his draft stock, transfer to another FBS program (he will graduate and be eligible to do so without sitting out), or simply head for greener pastures now and hope he performs well enough to be drafted in a later round or catch on somewhere as an undrafted free agent with upside.

Staying at Florida is probably Brantley’s best bet – give the new coach a chance and see what happens. He would have the inside track at the starting job and the ability to shine if one is to believe that offensive coordinator Steve Addazio and the offensive schemes are to blame. (Obviously Brantley’s poor play was a lot of his own doing as well.)

Transferring could work, but for every Joe Flacco (went to Pittsburgh, transferred to Delaware, drafted No. 18 overall in the 2008 NFL Draft) there are dozens of quarterbacks who make the same decision and whom you either never hear from again or still end up going undrafted when their NCAA eligibility expires. Brantley has to consider whether he would be in the minority or the majority in that scenario.

The NFL, however, gives Brantley another option: forget college. He can wipe his hands of the spread offense or the spread-to-pro-style hybrid that may be in place with the Gators next year. He wouldn’t have to worry about starting fresh elsewhere for one year (Flacco had two years at Delaware). Instead he can concentrate on his mechanics, train hard and try to “wow” scouts into believing that his struggles were all his team’s fault.

Taking the later route may be the most difficult. Perhaps Brantley doesn’t great drafted until the third day – if at all. Maybe he has to work his way up from the practice squad. But a respite at another school could end up doing nothing for him – maybe his stats get inflated and he performs better, but will he actually improve as a player?

No matter what Brantley decides, head coach Urban Meyer stepping down provided him with more options than he would have had if he stayed. Sticking around at Florida is probably his best choice, but his opportunities are not limited as limited as they could be.

Photo Credit: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

25 Comments

  1. Halagator says:

    Brantleys ability is very questionable. The offense did not showcase his strength but when given time to drop back and pass he showed very little.

  2. npgator says:

    Don’t you have to be drafted or pick up as an unrestricted free agent to play in the NFL? I think eliminates Brantley at least for now.

  3. John S says:

    I would think it would be best to for him to stay and hope for the best. I just don’t see enough fire in him to head out on his own, or start over somewhere else. If he hasn’t convinced himself he can play, he’ll have a had time convincing another coach or new teammates.

  4. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    Kid was jerked in and out way too much….the offense had no identity except being predictable…and his protection was terrible so the few time he was given protection he usually didn’t go through his progressions but you can say that about most QB’s getting knocked around…I think most are being way to hard on him

  5. Big Willy says:

    The FSU game shot of Brantley on the sideline crystallized it all for me. Addazio and Meyer had destroyed him – his confidence, his abilities, his fortitude – everything. I like Johnny. He is a Gator through and through. We saw his talent in mop up duty 2 years ago. Build an offense that he can work with and get these sub 4.4 receivers running patterns that make sense.

  6. npgator says:

    I hope he returns with the new offensive philosophy in tact.

  7. KM says:

    I agree… watching Brantley backup Tim, albeit on occasion, he looked very good. He was playing with confidence and he was normally VERY accurate in those situations. I can’t believe that he degraded on his OWN accord that badly last year. He had a lot of help. He could be VERY good again under Muschamp. I would love to have him stay.

  8. KM says:

    By the way, I don’t think any of us on the “sidelines” can really appreciate the immense amount of pressure these kids are under. I really feel badly for him, I know he has the talent or he would have never played for Florida!

  9. DoubleCheck says:

    He can’t just transfer to any FBS school because he graduated. He has to transfer to a school with a graduate program that UF does not offer.

  10. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    If you want to see what lack of confidence can do to a QB look at Sanchez….how bad has he looked the last 6 weeks!!!!

  11. DoubleCheck- It’s pretty easy to find that – most schools have differing degree programs. I wasn’t going to go into detail on each and every transfer rule…it was just pointing out the option in general. You are 100% correct though.

  12. NCGATOR says:

    Truth be told, Brantley should have ignored his family legacy and pursued schools that ran an offensive system that better fit his pocket-passer skills. Newton was slated to be Tebows replacement anyway, so his chances of ever starting were tenuous at best. Fortunately or unfortunately for him, Newton turned out to be thief and a cheat and was sent packing. Good riddance and Brantley gets his shot. The spread was never going to work for him no matter how they tried to morph it. It was tough enough following a legacy like tebow, much less trying to run the cluster f… offense that Addazio came up with. I feel bad for Brantley and I think Meyer stuck with him out of loyalty to John for patiently waiting his turn behind Tebow. Whatever happens, I wish him the best, but I can’t see Muschamp risking his first season by trying to make Brantley into something he’s not.

    • Not sure I agree that he’d be “risking” his season by playing Brantley over – let’s say – Reed. Especially if the offense is changed to better suit his abilities.

  13. Aligator says:

    Brantley should have gone to a school that he could have played in a pro style offense. He really should have gone to a Division 1-AA school.

    His options are:

    Come back next year
    Transfer
    Go to the NFL
    Go to the UFL
    Go to the CFL
    Go to the AFL

    He has plenty of options ….

  14. Tim says:

    Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

    Great kid, great family, but you look at ANY and I’m serious ANY successful quarterback and they’ve got that spark, that leadership ability. Brantley’s slouched and awe-shucks routine is not the stuff of successful starting quarterbacks. I don’t want to hear that Meyer or Addazio took the “it factor” away from him, he’s never shown it since he’s been here. I don’t want to hear it’s the “system”, he didn’t seem to have problems in the “system” last year when he came in to finish up games for the starting man.

    He was a great supporting player when Tim Tebow played lead man, but he’s not a leading man at this level. I don’t see how he can be one in the NFL. And to be clear, I’m rooting for the kid. I WANT him to be successful, but I didn’t see Chris Leak exploring his options, and he seemed to be able to throw the ball just fine in the spread even though he was a “drop back passer” under his 4th O.C.

    The truth is what it is. It just has not worked out for him here. You can paint it whatever color you want. If Brantley stays and gets it turned around, I’m going to be his biggest fan, but right now, I’m not on board with those of you reaching for excuses for this guy.

    All of this is being said of course as….MY PERSONAL OPINION.

  15. NCGATOR says:

    I believe the OL dictates what the QB can and can’t do. This line was recruited for speed to accommodate the lateral movement of the spread and protect the QB on roll-outs. It’s not a line big enough or physical enough to protect a QB as immobile as Brantley. The defenses know he’s not going to run and we don’t have a featured back ie; Marcus Lattimore to take the pressure off. So here come the blitz’s and down goes Brantley. I don’t see how any of that is going to change between now and next year. Reed on the hand has the entire off-season to refine his passing skills. Couple that with his running ability and physical attributes and I believe you have a better chance of winning with him at QB. Nobody wants a rerun of this season and I think that’s what you’ll get with Brantley at the helm. Another 7-5 season next year and coach Muschamp’s luster will start to dim quickly. I’m sure he realizes this is a “what have you done for me lately” fan base. If he doesn’t, he should ask coach Donovan.

  16. sjkoepp says:

    Call me naive but I still think Brantley could succeed with us. QB is such an incredibly huge mental position and I think his whole psyche is just off-kilter. He was extremely successful in HS and was one of the top rated QBs in the country. If both Texas and UF were recruiting him so heavily he obviously had talent and something people liked. Then when he would sub for Tebow he would do a great job and be on point.
    Unfortunately this year was totally different. He became a different player and person for the worse. I think Addazio is to blame for getting into this kids head and driving him to run an misshapen offense and do things he didn’t want to do. His level of play has changed. The problem isn’t his talent or lack thereof- it’s getting back into a healthy mindset. I hope he will be able to get that monkey off his back and go back to succeeding; even if it’s not with us.

  17. Aligator says:

    Oh no Adam, no knock on what you are saying at all, i was talking to some of the others about the different options, not your writing.

  18. Scooterp says:

    I’ve been repeating this over and over, but again, this seasons struggling offense wasn’t Brantleys fault. No, he doesn’t possess the same kind of leadership that Tebow has. Who does? But, from the first offensive series of the first game he was chasing bad snaps, picking his ass up off the ground, dumping screens off to Rainey on the right, running the option with Demps on the left, watching Deonte drop a balls that hit him in the hands………. chasing another bad snap, AGAIN. Then after the horror show we witnessed in week #1, what did we see in week #2? The same bad movie from week #1, with the same mistakes, from the same players, from the same sorry game plan, with the same crappy plays. If you take a kid and start him at quarterback in his first game at the college level, with that crappy of a product and show no ability evolve from week to the next, this is what happens. I don’t care how good a talent you are. This mess was a coaching problem. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to hold a 20 or 21 year old kid responsible for this teams failures, when there are 10 grown men with nearly 100 years of coaching experience, who allowed this cluster f** develop and did nothing to try and correct it over a thirteen week season. The coaches failed Brantley, not the other way around….. And this has never been brought up, but JB has handled this whole sorry mess with a lot of class and never pointed fingers at anyone else. He’s held himself accountable, which is more than I can say about his coaches.

  19. Tim says:

    While the season struggles on offense were not all on Brantley, he has to be honest with himself and his issues. He didn’t just walk in and meet Addazio, Luefler (sp), and Meyer in August 2010. If a few (dozen) bad snaps took him out of his rhythm for the season then he can’t cut it at Florida. He was a fantastic Class 2B quarterback. Not 4A, not 5A, not 6A…….2B.

    If his jersey didn’t say Brantley on the back of it I don’t think his poor performance would be so quickly dismissed by so many. I PROMISE you that he was being coached by not just Scape-dazzio, but Meyer, and his Quarterback coach as well. I PROMISE you that they sat with him and did the best they could to put him in position to be successful. 10 grown men, with proven records, who have been fairly successful in many places want to win football games, but if you can’t hit a running back in the backfield and you can’t keep your passes from sailing off into nowhere, then that’s on you, the quarterback. Everybody playing is 18 to 21 years old.

    Again, Leak in his FIRST year in the system, and who was a drop back passer, did not have the fundamental problems Brantley had this year. Brantley has been here 3 years…..he doesn’t get a fee pass on the problems. I remember Trey Burton calling a time out while lined up in the slot during the FSU game. Brantley was under center and the clock was winding down when Burton, a TRUE freshman, had enough wherewithal to notice that the play clock was running out. Brantley had NO CLUE what was going on. That’s fundamental. Brantley came to the sideline to find a completely stunned and frustrated Urban Meyer asking him what the heck is the problem?

    So let me understand some of this correctly. From what I’m reading from some of you, Brantley needs to be in a special system (not the one he’s been the backup quarterback for the last 3 years), with a full back and a big running back, he can only drop back and hit receivers running standard routes, he can’t have any pressure on him, he needs every single shotgun snap to be right to his chest (first game admittedly ridiculous but no other QB in the shotgun we played against this year needed that), and needs a better head coach, a better offensive coordinator (okay maybe), and a better quarterbacks coach than the ones we have. Wow…sounds like a great quarterback. Yep he’s awesome if we can just surround him with everything he needs.

    This blind loyalty to Brantley is so confusing to me. He doesn’t need to be replaced….he needs to take a long hard look in the mirror, figure out what he wants to do with his future, work his BUTT off this offseason, and come out kicking @$$ next year for the Gators. If he can’t do that, and he wants to check out his “options” with his family….then don’t let the door hit you Brantley, I promise you, there’s not going to be much of a drop off from what you’ve shown this year.

    It’s not about the season’s struggles, it’s about his own. I think the same can be said for most every player on this 2010 team.

  20. Scooterp says:

    Tim – You build your team around your quarterback. You design your gameplan around your quarterback. Yes, Addazio, Loeffler, Meyer and co. knew what kind of quarterback they had. I know Brantley didn’t enroll last spring – thats my point. The entire CFB universe knew what Brantley could and couldn’t do, so why were the coaches so adament about forcing him into things he couldn’t. Especially when they said multiple times in the 8 months leading up to this season that they were going to play to his strengths.

    And Leak? He didn’t run a juggernaut offense in ’06. The fanbase was killing him in the same manner they are killing Brantley, right now. Plus, he had 3 years of on field experience when they shook things up offensively. That gives him a little bit of an advantage over JB. We protected Leak better, we caught balls that Leak threw and the offense was constantly changing through out the season. It looked different in week 13 than it did in week 1.

    All I’m saying is they did a sloppy job of preparing the guy, for this season. I know he didn’t play well, but it sickens me to see gator fans lump all the blame equally onto him and Addazio. Maybe he is in over his head, but its unfair to draw conclusions about his ability/talent when he was coached poorly in a grossly flawed offensive system.

  21. Tim says:

    Well, do we atleast agree that Brantley needs to come back next year with an agressive atitude, and a work ethic unmatched by anyone on the team, and show everyone it was indeed the coaching staff not him? I certainly agree with your point that it’s not all on him. I just don’t think one can ignore his role.

    From Ivan Maisel of ESPN.
    “My colleague Andrea Adelson blogged Tuesday that Florida quarterback John Brantley reiterated that he would discuss his future with his family and that he is noncommittal about his return to Gainesville. Maybe I’m old school, but if I had the year Brantley had (nine touchdown passes, nine picks in 12 games), and I had a new coach, I would be busting my hump to impress him. Noncommittal? Will Muschamp is the one who will be noncommittal about Brantley and every other Gator. They just went 7-5.”

  22. Scooterp says:

    I agree with where he’s at currently. I just disagree with how he got this way.

    His head may certainly not be in it. If thats the case….. move on and I wish him the best. I just think the reason the Gators were awful this year is because they were poorly coached, not because they had a bad quarterback. If JB can’t get his head right then I don’t want him back either. His psyche/confidence/will to compete may have very well been completely destroyed this year. I just think the coaches had a responsibility to put him in a position to be successful and protect him – they failed miserably.

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