Decision day?

Top-notch quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel could make somebody very happy today, but his decision isn't make or break for LSU.

So is today the today?


Do we all get a day-after-Christmas morsel as tasty as that leftover turkey sandwich?


Is this when the college football world and the noisy little corner that LSU occupies finally hears the news about arguably the biggest pure quarterback recruit the Tigers have targeted – and been in the dance with – since Ryan Perrilloux or JaMarcus Russell?


(Sorry Russell Shepard, but there was always a question about whether you’d stay at quarterback, so you don’t make the final cut. And Zach Lee always had the baseball thing hanging over him.)


Pardon the pun, but it sure seems like the time is perfect for Gunner Kiel to pull the trigger and transition into the next phase of his football odyssey.


From all indications, the talented 6-foot-4, 215-pound Kiel is down to LSU, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. He could throw everybody a major curve ball, of course, and pick a school nobody figures is in the hunt. At this point, would that really surprise anybody?


For Vanderbilt, Kiel would be a recruiting coup. A potential cornerstone player for years to come.


As for Notre Dame, landing Kiel is almost a must. Those shiny gold helmets have taken on plenty of tarnish the last decade or so and second-year coach Brian Kelly needs a top-shelf quarterback to build around if the future is going to brighten up any. Kelly and ND also need to win a recruiting battle like this against a heavyweight to make it at least look like the Irish are relevant at the national level.


Then there’s LSU.


Gunner Kiel: Nation's top-rated quarterback will apparently choose LSU, Vanderbilt or Notre Dame

Here’s the thing that Tiger fans already know but need to remind themselves: Kiel doesn’t make or break LSU. Would there be a jolt of euphoria if the country’s 16th-ranked player in the Class of 2012 and highest-rated QB said he was LSU-bound? Well, heck yes.


But the Tigers are at an elite point where they Kiel joining the band would be like adding another instrument that changes the sound a certain way, but doesn’t really make the harmony any better.


Put another way, Kiel – as good as he is, and his pedigree shows that he’s got a chance to be special – isn’t a program-changer for LSU.


As it stands now, the Tigers have three quarterbacks returning next season with plenty of untapped promise. After four years of muddling through at that spot when QB was often a weak link because of inconsistency, there’s hope that Zach Mettenberger immediately and Stephen Rivers and Jerrard Randall eventually bring some stability and perhaps even the chance to build off what the quarterback can do.


Kiel would certainly be another building block and perhaps somebody who could push Mettenberger right off the bat, which there are some hints that might benefit the heir apparent to the starting job in 2012.


Landing Kiel won’t define the Tigers’ future, though. When you reach the plateau with only a handful of programs that LSU is at, one recruit – no matter what position he plays – makes or breaks a class or a future season.


There are other quarterbacks in the Class of 2012 and there will be more every season moving forward. Yes, the worry about being back in the same spot as 2008, without a tested signal-caller, is legit. But there’s time to address that before it happens.


With or without Kiel, LSU is likely to be ranked in the top three when the 2012 season launches next September.


And that’s likely where a major component of Kiel’s decision lies.


Does he go to a place where he can be a very good quarterback in relative obscurity for a program that is excited about being in the Liberty Bowl?


Or does he stick close to home and take a shot (risk?) at being the star who helps breathe life back into one of the most tradition-rich programs in the country that’s fallen on hard times?


Or does he jump into the hottest of fires in the best league in the country for a team that is poised be in the mix for the national championship for the next several years and truly test what his football mettle is made of, a spot where he wouldn’t have to be a star but certainly could be with a lot more talent around him?

Is today the day we find out? Stay tuned.

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