Opinion: No Need to Anoint Bowden as starter

Army sophomore quarterback Chip Bowden rushed for 128 yards in his first career start against Texas A&M; however Stan Brock on Tuesday refused to name him the starter for Saturday's game. One reporter pushed Brock on the issue, and even wrote that the coach's rationale for not giving Bowden the job outright is just a "smokescreen." I've got another possible reason or two for the decision.

I don't think Army head coach Stan Brock and Times Herald-Record reporter Sal Interdonato like each other very much.  Then again, I've never seen the two interact in public, so there is a chance that I'm completely wrong and the two are best friends and even go fishing in the off-season.

Regardless, during yesterday's press conference the two had what I would call a ‘testy' exchange regarding Army's quarterback situation.

To explain, I strongly suspect that the Tulane coaching staff is preparing to face Chip Bowden this weekend, and it would be a good assumption that future Army opponents will do the same based on his performance against the Aggies.  However, Brock refused to name him the starter when asked by someone other than Interdonato if the sophomore did enough to solidify the job, saying:

"Again, we do this week to week. I don't think we're good enough to say that somebody has it over and over. But right now, he'll take the first snaps today when we go back out there and practice. It just depends on if he has a good week. That's just how we base it. That's how we do it with every position."

Two minutes later, Interdonato followed up with his own question, asking, "What does Chip Bowden have to do to earn the starting quarterback job for the foreseeable future. It seemed like he would be the logical choice to be the starter this week…"

Brock then interrupted the Times Herald-Record reporter to say, "I didn't say he wasn't the starter."

Interdonato replied, "You said it was about practice and stuff like that. Why not say, Chip, it's your job, take it and run with it?"

To that, Brock said, "Because we do everything week-to-week with whoever has the best week of practice."

That answer was followed by 15 seconds of dead silence on the conference call.

Maybe during that break in the action Brock and Interdonato exchanged a written note on a good river in upstate New York for catching bass – then again, maybe not.

Later in the day, in his blog, Interdonato recounted that portion of the press conference, and went on to refer to Brock's policy to name a starter based on their performance in practice a "smokescreen."

The reporter later deadpanned about the coach's approach, "I will never get that. Maybe there's a reason I'm a sports writer and not a football coach. Bowden runs the option in games better than any other quarterback who has played and yet he still has to prove himself in practice."

Maybe one thing that Interdonato has not considered is that Brock's decision could also have something to do with his sense of loyalty to Carson Williams.  Knowing Army was going away from his comfort zone and to an option-based attack; Williams could have left West Point this summer without a military commitment and with the hope of winning a starting job at another college.  However he decided to stay and perhaps his coach is committed to giving him every opportunity to compete for the job, and to continue to get some snaps on Saturdays.  There can be no doubt that by starting Williams in Army's first three games that Brock gave the once prized recruit every opportunity to transform into a capable option quarterback. It didn't happen. Nevertheless Williams is still the more efficient passer and there is no doubt that Army will probably be playing catch-up in a few of their upcoming games.  So there should be some opportunities to get the junior signal caller into games without sidetracking Bowden's development.

Another point to consider is that Brock may be issuing a public challenge to Bowden and to every Army player who thinks that the depth chart couldn't or shouldn't change based on their performance in practice.  Perhaps the day-to-day work ethic of the team is a central focus of Brock's rebuilding philosophy, and until he sees some consistency in that area, no player is assured by the coaching staff of starting the next game.

There is little doubt that declaring Bowden the starter for the remainder of the season would be a welcome announcement for Army fans.  Such a statement would also make for a good headline. However, I'm not sure what positive impact, if any, declaring Bowden the starter in public would have in the locker room.


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