For better or for worse, college football fans have short memories, and Trevor Siemian has seen both the love and the hate. At the beginning of the season, fans were calling for him to be the full-time starter. By late October, they wanted him benched for good.
That kind of love/hate relationship comes with the territory when you're a college football player — the backup quarterback tends to be the most popular guy on the team. But the time it took for Siemian to go from GOAT to goat — well, maybe not that far, but you get the point — is pretty astounding.
As I wrote back in October, there was probably a middle ground between the "never play Siemian" and "start him" crowds, and when both Siemian and Kain Colter were healthy. Northwestern's coaches actually did a pretty good job of finding that balance. For what it's worth, I always thought Colter should start, but Siemian should play, too, balanced the way they were during the first half of the Ohio State game.
However, injuries forced NU to play Siemian more than it would have liked in some instances, and less than it would have liked in others. So after a whirlwind season for the Wildcats' "1.B." quarterback, the majority of the fan base is calling for him to be demoted to full-time backup, replaced by a redshirt freshman, who has never taken a college snap. Of course, that redshirt freshman, Matt Alviti, has some impressive credentials. He was a four-star recruit and turned down Notre Dame and Nebraska to attend Northwestern, which certainly doesn't happen every day.
Alviti might be very good, but let me get this straight: a large segment of the fan base would rather start someone they have never seen throw a ball in college rather than the guy who just threw for the 10th-most single game passing yards in NU history in his last game? Huh?
The next option isn't always the better option, and some of the reasons I've heard to start Alviti over Siemian are pretty outrageous — the best was the (multiple) people who want Alviti to start because nobody knew about Johnny Manziel or Jameis Winston before their breakout years, either. If you're banking on your redshirt freshman quarterback becoming a Heisman winner right away, chances are you'll be disappointed.
To add to Siemian's case, it turns out he was very limited in his worst games this season — particularly against Minnesota — due to a heel injury:
In his healthiest game since the beginning of the season, and against an average Illinois pass defense — it ranked 60th nationally heading into the game — Siemian was 31-of-44 passing for 414 yards and 4 touchdown passes. Plus, over the past few games, he's shown a willingness to keep the ball on the zone read and option pitch, taking what the defense gave him. But he should *definitely* lose his job to someone that has never played a college game?
We'll know a lot more about the quarterback battle in the spring. Alviti will certainly get a chance to compete for the job, but given Pat Fitzgerald's tendencies with veterans, the job will be Siemian's to lose. When you consider the circumstances of this season, that's just how it should be.