Gabbert Not A Huge Loss for U of L

07/12/2011 01:15 PM

Tyler Gabbert, we hardly knew ye.
The Louisville football program had seemingly scored a major coup earlier this summer when Gabbert, the younger brother of Blaine Gabbert, the 10th-overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft, announced he was transferring to U of L from Missouri. Now, reports out of the Louisville camp say that Gabbert has already decided to leave U of L after less than a week on campus. Gabbert gone
I must admit, I was skeptical when I first learned the details of his Gabbert’s transfer from Missouri to U of L. Gabbert, who redshirted as a freshman, opted to transfer after sophomore James Franklin was named the starter at the conclusion of spring practice.
Franklin showed promise as Blaine’s backup last fall. He was mainly a Wildcat QB, going 11-of-14 passing for 106 yards with a touchdown and interception while running for 116 yards and two scores.
The fact that the younger Gabbert bailed on Mizzou after being on campus for only one year sounded like a sense of entitlement to me. (Besides, considering how popular Blaine Gabbert was and how many games he won at Missouri, don’t you think that Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel would have named Tyler the starter if he was the best candidate?)
At programs such as Louisville, getting a high-profile transfer can generate some excitement, kind of like, “Yeah.. we’re getting this kid from such-and-such.” But rarely do these high-profile transfers pan out. We all saw how the Willie Williams situation ended (Read about Williams’ latest problems, a burglary charge, here. And much of the offseason talk last summer surrounded the transfer of Jordan Campbell from USC to Louisville, and the late signing of former Michigan recruit Demar Dorsey. Both left campus without playing a down for the Cards.
Players transfer for a reason, and often it’s one of three things: A) the player isn’t as good as the coaching staff originally thought; B) the player isn’t playing as much as he or his family, friends, and/or entourage thinks he should be; or C) off-the-field issues or academics. I say it’s better to bring in and develop your own talent than to deal with another program’s baggage.
That being said, I don’t blame Charlie Strong for taking chances on transfers from ‘name’ programs like Gabbert, Campbell and Dorsey. Often it’s the easiest route for a program like Louisville to get four and five-star prospects in the fold. Gabbert was a four-star prospect out of high school. He comes from good bloodlines. And it’s a low-risk, high-reward proposition.
And while it’s rare, transfers do pan out occasionally. Eric Shelton, for instance, was an impact player for the Cardinals after transferring from Florida State. And just because a kid transfers doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a prima donna or malcontent. The University of Kentucky signed two four-star quarterbacks in 2009, Morgan Newton and Ryan Mossakowski. It was everybody’s general assumption that at some point, one of the two QB’s would eventually transfer. Mossakowski redshirted his freshman year, and then played sparingly in 2010. Once it became apparent that Newton was the QB of the future, it was logical and understandable for Mossakowski to look for a new home, which he did in the spring.
But after his abrupt departure from Missouri, Gabbert didn’t even give it a full fall camp before packing his bags and leaving Louisville. Heck, he didn’t even give it a full week. And it’s not like he was going to play this season anyway. He could have spent the 2011 season learning the U of L offense, getting acclimated to the new coaching staff, and then making a push for the job next fall. Instead he’s off to his next destination. (According to ESPN-680 in Louisville, Gabbert wants to return to Missouri but the Tigers aren’t interested).
This isn’t to totally rip on the kid. According to Courier-Journal beat writer C.L. Brown’s blog , Gabbert never wanted to leave Missouri in the first place and was pushed into doing so by his father after he lost out to Franklin. (C’mon, Mr. Gabbert. Isn’t one son quarterbacking in the NFL enough?)
Whether you’ve covered sports, coached sports, or played sports, you’ve likely seen or dealt with a high-maintenance parent or two. It’s not only extremely annoying, but it can also have a damaging affect on team chemistry.
So while having Gabbert would have been nice to provide hotshot freshman Teddy Bridgewater some competition in 2012, if things are really the way they are sounding, the Cards are better off moving on. Strong took a step towards doing just that by securing a commitment from Will Gardner, a strong-armed 6-foot-5 quarterback from Georgia who picked Louisville over Alabama and Mississippi State.
And while many Cardinal fans may lament the loss of Gabbert, the person who really loses out in this battle is Gabbert, who now must answer questions about his perseverance and stability before he finds a new home.


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