Husker Dan: Gebbia Bolts, Jolts Husker QB Picture
I’ve been mulling over this subject ever since the story broke on Monday. Of course I’m talking about the departure of back-up quarterback Tristan Gebbia.
In case you’ve been living on the Planet Gorga the past week, you might not know that Sunday, Husker head football coach Scott Frost announced that true freshman Adrian Martinez will be the starting quarterback for the Huskers in Saturday night’s home opener vs. the Akron Zips.
And on Monday, all of Huskerland found out that Martinez’s much heralded back-up, Tristan Gebbia, not only had quit the team, but had also dropped out of school.
THE WHAT-IF FACTOR
Gebbia’s leaving seemed to catch everyone by surprise, including Frost. What is potentially damaging is the “what if factor” — as in what if something happens to Adrian Martinez. Who will be AM’s back-up?
With TG in the lineup, the Husker quarterback position was one that, while short on experience, was rather high on potential.
But now, after Martinez, there are no eligible scholarship QB players on the roster — only junior college transfer walk-on Andrew Bunch and behind him, a true freshman walk-on from Kearney, Nebraska, Matt Masker. If AM stays healthy, Gebbia’s leaving will be a moot point.
But if AM does go down, Nebraska’s offense, and season, might be in trouble.
So what are the rest of us supposed to take from Gebbia’s departure? Here are some thoughts.
1.) Some might take Gebbia’s departure to mean that he is a quitter, who, once he didn’t get his way, left his team and his coaches in the lurch. They also may ask themselves, what kind of message does this send to younger kids who are facing some disappointments in their careers? If a player doesn’t get his way is it okay for him to quit on his team and coaches at the 11th hour?
2.) To be sure, Gebbia was recruited by Mike Riley to run a drop-back passing offense. Gebbia had planned to use his career at Nebraska under Riley to propel himself into the NFL. And being a back-up for the next four years (a likely possibility under Scott Frost) probably wasn’t going to help his NFL chances. (After all, how many Tom Bradys are there?)
3.) Scott Frost said Tristan “took it well” Saturday upon hearing the news that he wasn’t going to be the starter. But what happened between Saturday night and Monday morning? Did TG get some bad advice? Did his dad tell him to leave the team? I don’t know, but whatever caused Gebbia to change his mind, things happened very quickly.
4.) It seems that his “escape plan” was well thought out and that Gebbia knew all along that if he didn’t win the starting spot, he was headed for greener pastures. Maybe we’ll never know for sure.
THE VEDRAL EXPRESS
5.) It’s safe to say that if Frost knew that Gebbia was likely to leave if he didn’t get his way, Frost would most likely have made a much bigger attempt to get UCF quarterback transfer Noah Vedral cleared by the NCAA to become eligible to play for the Huskers this fall.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
I’m all in favor of football players being able to control their futures. We don’t jam Memorial Stadium to watch the officials, the band, the coaches or Husker Vision. We go to see the players play football. No more, no less.
That’s why I’m a strong believer in letting players have a bigger say regarding their careers. Frost was a transfer from Stanford, and former UCF players Noah Vedral and Tre Neal transferred this year to play for Nebraska. So why should we treat TG’s leaving any differently?
One big reason.
Timing. That’s why. Leaving the team just days before the season opener shows, to me, that the player cares more about himself than his teammates or coaches.
What will be the impact of Gebbia’s decision? Maybe there will be no fallout. Maybe his next team and coaches will greet him with open arms and he’ll be the starter at another program.
I hope so. I don’t think Gebbia is a quitter, but he may have been given some really bad advice.
One has to consider, what if the head coach at his next stop thinks, “This kid quit on his team. Maybe he’ll quit on me. I don’t think I want him on my team.”
Dunno. I wish Tristan Gebbia all the best and I’ll root for him at his next stop, wherever he goes and whenever he plays. We’ll miss you, number 14. But sadly, we hardly got to know ye.
You may contact the writer at HuskerDan@cox.net