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.
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