Issue: SDSU’s starting quarterback Thomas O’Brien announced his decision to quit the team Sept. 19.
Yes, it is a big deal.
Running back Dominique Clare said quarterbacks are “like second coaches.” O’Brien was more than just a typical player – he was a leader of the team.
What is forgotten in the hysteria – online, in the media and in the stands – is that O’Brien is a student who happens to wear football pads.
SDSU made drastic changes to its athletics department in the last decade, ushering in a new era: a Division I program competing against the likes of Nebraska, Minnesota, Kentucky, Iowa State and Arkansas through a variety of sports. It is understood that SDSU wants to compete, and succeed, at this level.
Perhaps no one faces the weight of that desire for success more than the starting quarterback on the football team. O’Brien faced it from every angle – from fans, coaches, teammate and peers. He maybe felt eyes peering at him whenever he walked in The Union.
When the Monday night news broke out, teammates responded.
“I think there’s a lot of unnecessary blame and pressure put on him … and a lot of times it’s not necessarily his fault,” Clare said to The Collegian Monday.
Other players spoke about the situation via Twitter, all resoundingly supportive.
It is unknown what the consensus is amongst fans. But there is a lesson at play here from this storyline of a young quarterback from Winona, Minn., who helped lead SDSU to a playoff berth for the first time in 30 years, who threw 69 touchdown passes in his high school career, who was named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference honor roll for his efforts as a student.
We can clamor for a winning team and a successful program, but we must understand the pressure placed on all players on the sidelines, on the bench or in the dugout. We can boo or we can cheer. We can be mad when they lose, joyful when they win – we are all watching a game being played.
O’Brien played a game and, by all accounts, was committed to winning. When he thought the situation turned too ugly, he made a life decision.
Maybe it is a cliché, but football is not everything. Wide receiver Dale Moss said it best in a tweet Monday:
“…at the end of the day we have a life outside of sports.”
Stance: Fans should consider that Jackrabbits are not professionals. They are student athletes.
Emma DeJong, Editor-in-Chief
Drue Aman, Managing Editor
Laura Cox, Opinion Editor