Finley move best for both parties
Back in the old days, before virtual conference calls, there was this archaic thing called the SEC football coaches teleconference, a weekly exercise during the season that is still in play.
But that’s not important now.
This was one of my favorite moments of it, courtesy of former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.
The exact year and details are fuzzy, but Auburn had just announced a change at quarterback, and if I recall it was the day’s hot topic du jour.
Finally, a writer chimed in, affecting his most sensitive, sympathetic tone of voice. He wanted to know if, when faced with delicate moves such as a quarterback change, Tuberville might have called the parents of his displaced quarterback to maybe let them down easy, soothe them in their time of grief.
Tuberville kind of chuckled, but his own tone soon suggested that he thought it just might be the funniest question he’d ever heard.
“Nah,” he finally said (and I’m paraphrasing). “That kind of thing doesn’t really happen at this level. It’s not Little League.”
Still isn’t. But college football is getting there, with a reaction such as Tuberville’s that day sounding more and more like old-school dunder-headism.
The NCAA’s no-fault transfer portal — which I still envision as some sleek, foggy tube right out of Star Trek — is always out there.
And it’s so easy to operate.
LSU’s TJ Finley, who started five games as a true freshman last season, is climbing into the contraption right now.
Poof — soon he’ll be somewhere else, 100 percent immediately eligible, no questions asked.
Finley, although he has the most starts among LSU’s four quarterbacks, he evidently saw the writing on the wall in a crowded room and figured his future wasn’t at LSU.
Which is fine. Certainly nothing against Finley.
With pandemic reporting in place for his lone season at LSU, everything I know about him is through virtual calls. But he certainly seems like a class act, and his explanation for taking the TP plunge and the way he handled it did nothing to dispel that.
He’s not mad at anybody, he told a Baton Rouge radio show Thursday morning. Wouldn’t trade his LSU experience for anything. He also said he felt like he got his fair shot in the spring, but that his future is elsewhere.
“Things went well,” he said on the “Jordy Culotta Show.” “I had a very good spring,but there were just too many guys in our room that could play immediately. Somebody had to make the decision on which one was going to stay and which one was going to leave.”
Head coach Ed Orgeron said the competition, which also includes Myles Brennan, Max Johnson and early enrollee Garrett Nussmeier, would be ongoing. But right after the spring game he also said it had to be narrowed to two by early August because there’s only so many footballs to go around.
For LSU, which once played eenymeeny-miny-moe to choose between Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, too many good quarterbacks sounds like a good problem to have.
The general consensus was that the final two will be Brennan and Johnson. My money is still on Brennan to emerge.
But you could easily imagine any of those four starting and performing well — all have their talents. That alone would have been equally unimaginable in years past considering all the genuine quarterback quandaries the Tigers faced before Joe Burrow fell in their laps.
Even with Finley gone, there doesn’t appear to be a bad choice there.
And there are more on the way — five-star Walker Howard (a legacy, son of former Tiger Jamie Howard) is committed to next year’s recruiting class.
But maybe it’s not the worst thing for LSU that the QB depth chart whittled itself down.
Never mind that LSU really does need to narrow the focus on whatever quarterback duel emerges.
But, face it, the quarterback position is different. It just is. They probably need a separate portal.
Any other spot, a backup can figure to see the field and contribute. With quarterback, it usually takes an injury or a meltdown.
Not so with quarterback, although with any random interception fans are always begging to see the next man up.
Finley, who will have no shortage of suitors, probably isn’t the last LSU quarterback to stick a toe in the portal, so it’s best to keep stockpiling.
But this is an instance that really could be the best solution for both Finley and the Tigers.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at