Initial word that comes to mind: Diverse
Second word that comes to mind: Competition
Third that comes to mind: Options
OK, so the Illini have a senior looking to end on a good note, a freshman with ridiculous upside, a transfer waiting in the wings and a junior that is somewhere in the middle of it all.
My opinion shifts from time to time, but after much thinking I've decided (and the depth chart echos my feelings) that Scheelhaase gives the Illini the best chance to win right now.
Bailey is going to play though, and I think he can be an extremely useful weapon as a change-of-pace or a guy with a set number of plays or packages he's ready to run on a particular series or two each game.
OC Bill Cubit will have to balance pace and momentum and all that noise, but I think his 30-something year football adventure has him prepared to make these type of decisions. Whatever it is, Cubit just makes you feel OK about these things.
Wes Lunt is the guy most think will start next season, but let's not spend too much time talking about that here.
To me, there are three scenarios. One, Scheelhaase and the offense do OK or maybe even better in the out-of-conference games and he carries the starting job into the Big Ten slate. I think we can all agree that that's the preferred route.
Two, the team doesn't win or look good early. If Scheelhaase isn't doing very well, then you're facing a decision between O'Toole and Bailey. Personally, I don't see any upside in playing O'Toole if the season becomes a lost cause early.
Three, Scheelhaase gets hurt at some point after proving himself capable. This is the, 'we've been competitive and we're not throwing the chance to win games away by playing a freshman just yet' circumstance. Hey, I hate to bring it up, but it's not like Nate hasn't dealt with untimely or unlucky injuries in the past. This would be an interesting situation, because O'Toole might be a better option to win games in the moment instead of throwing Bailey in there to get him reps for down the road. Who knows, though? It would be worth debating, I know that.
That's a lot of what-ifs, but the quarterback spot can sometimes be a complicated thing.
You know, you kinda have to pull for the guy: Scheelhaase
Respect for his good attitude and fight: O'Toole
Moon landing? Let's shoot for Mars!: Bailey
Here's to making the wait as productive as possible: Lunt
Final thought: I think a lot of what I've typed above could produce some anxiety, but I find it all intriguing. There's such a pool of players and angles to choose from… Those who like redemption and feel good endings can get behind Scheelhaase. O'Toole has already earned respect by saying the right things and not running from Bailey and Lunt arriving on campus. Bailey and Lunt form the 'what's next is going to be amazing' story line, but in two totally different styles. Here's to some good play from the position, from whoever and whenever it is.