Write it down, mark it in the calendars and remember the date of July 17, 2013 – the official, nation-wide birthdate of the Casey Pachall redemption story.
Pachall was voted to the All-Big 12 Preseason Team by conference media members Wednesday, marking something significant. Although TCU bought into the tattooed gunslinger by reinstating him to the football team in January, the media at large is now officially invested into the story by naming him as the best quarterback in the Big 12 preseason.
But what is the significance of the award? Was it that the media recognized his talent? It certainly is, but it goes deeper than that.
It’s one thing to give a preseason award to a player who played in only four games in the past calendar year. It’s another thing to give that award to a player who left his team a third of the way into the year to attend rehab and address personal issues.
The most shocking thing – and most significant thing – about Pachall winning the award is that he has played one career game in the Big 12. His opponent for the game? The Kansas Jayhawks, who have won two conference games in their last 34 attempts.
If that’s not a damning sign to how weak and unproven the 2013 quarterback class is for the Big 12, nothing else is.
What does this mean for TCU and the progression of the Pachall redemption story? It means that 2013 is the perfect opportunity for Pachall to shine.
The Big 12 returns a grand total of three starting quarterbacks, at least, technically speaking. David Ash out of Texas and Clint Chelf from Oklahoma State join Pachall as the only projected starting quarterbacks returning to a Big 12 team.
For a conference of teams known to create NFL-caliber producing quarterbacks, including six current NFL starting quarterbacks, this is not only the smallest amount of returning quarterbacks in league history, but it’s also the most unusual.
Ash, a sophomore last season, spent most of the year at the starting quarterback for the Longhorns, but in some instances, such as after throwing multiple interceptions on Thanksgiving night, he was replaced by Case McCoy.
It wasn’t an injury, a suspension, or any of the other usual suspects to put Ash on the bench. At the end of the season, Ash’s role as a starting quarterback was clouded because of his abilities as a player, as he started on the sidelines in the Longhorns’ season finale as McCoy started against the Kansas State Wildcats.
The same line of questioning goes for Chelf, who joins Pachall as the only other senior in the Big 12’s 2013 starting quarterback class.
Chelf, who started the final five games for the Cowboys in 2012, was one of three starting quarterbacks for the Pokes last season. He had to battle this spring against J.W. Walsh, who was OSU’s leader in total offense (1,854 total yards), for the starting job. If Wes Lunt didn’t transfer to Illinois, it very well would have been a three-pony race to start in Stillwater.
Then there’s Pachall. Patterson, still as of July 18, refuses to name who the starter for the LSU game will be. Pachall, who took three months off workouts to attend rehab, has had very minimal appearances to either the media or the public during spring football and the off-season in general thus far.
Overall, it’s a rough bunch, especially for the Big 12’s standards. For a conference that featured the likes of Seth Doege, Geno Smith, Collin Klein, Landry Jones and Nick Florence last season, it’s a significant drop down.
Yet, out of the quarterbacks still in the league, only one is receiving hype from some of the masses. There’s only one quarterback, despite playing in only two games against conference foes (Kansas in 2012 and a 50-48 loss to Baylor in 2011), being hailed as the preseason’s best quarterback in the Big 12.
He doesn’t have the formal starting job from Patterson yet. He hasn’t taken a snap yet this season. But the story is now official.
TCU is not alone. Thanks to the media, the redemption story is officially underway.