By TOM LEA
MADISON – There are often two reactionary sides whenever a decision is made in sports.
There are the people it affects positively and the folks that drop chin to chest and wonder what happened that prevented them from being on the right side of the ledger.
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema took to Twitter Sunday night to announce his newest starting quarterback was the expected one, Danny O’Brien.
That means the two other signal callers vying for that spot came up short.
“I actually grabbed the quarterbacks before a team meeting,” Bielema said. “I sat down with all three of those guys individually. I went around and talked to every individual position group in the offensive meeting rooms and kind of talked about where the race was and why we went in a certain direction and all on board to move together.
“It couldn’t have gone any better.”
Curt Phillips, early in camp, said he didn’t come back from three ACL surgeries to the same knee to ‘sit on the bench.’ Joel Stave, a redshirt freshman, said he considered himself the No. 1 quarterback as recently as Tuesday of last week.
So clearly both had aspirations of starting for the 2012 Wisconsin Badgers. Both were probably as equally devastated when they found out it wasn’t meant to be.
“I think anyone that wouldn’t win (a quarterback competition) would be disappointed,” O’Brien said following Monday’s practice. “They’re great guys. They congratulated me and I said, ‘Let’s keep working.’ We have that mentality. We all came out today and worked hard. You still have to push each other.
“It’s not necessarily over.”
Bielema listed Phillips and Stave on the same line as part of his initial two-deep depth chart. He didn’t want to leave one player off the two deep simply because he didn’t want it to seem as though their chances were null and void.
He didn’t want complacency to creep in amongst the mindset of a player that not only lost a quarterback competition, but didn’t even find a way to finish second.
“I had a good conversation with Curt,” Bielema said. “He and I only know the history so that’s why I thought it was important as a head coach to sit down. It was important to come from my voice. One thing we did share, when he was in the three horse race with him and Dustin (Sherer) and Scott (Tolzien) and after we made the decision to go with Scott, Dustin kind of took a third seat role.”
In that 2009 fall camp quarterback race, Dustin Sherer probably entered as the favorite, considering he finished the remainder of a disastrous 7-6 season in 2008 and since he contributed fully during spring camp of 2009.
However, with steady play and his rock-solid demeanor, Tolzien eclipsed both Phillips and Sherer for the starting job. From there, Sherer slipped into the No. 3 quarterback role and never really dug himself out of that rut.
That was Sherer’s senior season. Phillips, because he’s missed the entirety of two seasons, plans to apply for a sixth-year of eligibility and compete for the starting gig once again in 2013.
“Curt has this year,” Bielema said. “But he’s more than likely guaranteed another year. So he’s got two years (left) to play and that he wasn’t going to be automatically into the third spot.”
Bielema in regards to naming O’Brien the starting quarterback:
“I talked about how well our guys handled this situation. There are guys that live with Curt. There are guys that came in with Curt. There are guys that know Stave and guys that are in the same class as Stave that are out there. The one thing nobody did — and I don’t think Danny did as well — was try to gain all this allegiance with certain groups. He (O’Brien) just did his business.
“I read some of the comments that he said to you guys about whoever wins this, we’re here to support him. And we’re going to do the best things we can. I don’t think that was verbiage. I think it was legitimately from the heart of a person that loves to compete and win.”