Brown: Jake Rudock isn't the bad guy, Hawkeye fans
IOWA CITY, Ia. –Believe it or not, Jake Rudock wasn't wearing a black hat when he showed up at the Iowa football complex Tuesday.
Rudock has become popularity's foil to the big man on campus. At least to those who think C.J. Beathard is a better option as the Hawkeyes' starting quarterback.
"Not everybody is going to like you at the end of the day, for whatever reason," Rudock said.
Rudock doesn't deserve this bad-guy reputation, no matter how Sunshine brightens your day. He does deserve to start, based on his depth of experience. And coach Kirk Ferentz said Rudock will start at 11 a.m. Saturday against Indiana at Kinnick Stadium.
But really, does it matter who starts?
Ferentz and offensive coordinator Greg Davis have said that both quarterbacks will see action from here on out. That brings an interesting dynamic to an offense that has yet to find serious rhythm. How will it work?
"I'm not sure," Rudock said. "I really don't have a solid answer. Maybe coach knows. I don't."
In a perfect world?
"Obviously I want to be there for every single snap," Rudock said.
This quarterback controversy blossomed when Rudock was hurt late in the first half against Pittsburgh and couldn't return. Beathard came off the bench to rally the troops to a 24-20 victory. A star was born.
The following week at Purdue, Beathard got his first collegiate start in a 24-10 victory. He played OK, but not good enough to take the job by the throat.
Beathard supporters point to all the dropped passes. A legitimate point.
But they don't point out the audibles Beathard missed at the line of scrimmage. Rudock, with 17 starts under his belt, wouldn't have missed them. And that's a big reason Ferentz will start him.
Every player has a resume, Ferentz said. And Rudock's is longer than Beathard's, for the time being. Beathard, it appears, will have chances to update his the rest of the season.
"He made a couple of deposits at the bank, and that's a good thing," Ferentz said.
But for now, Ferentz's ledger leans to Rudock.
"To me, Jake entered this season as a guy who played well a year ago," Ferentz said. "I think a lot of that has been diminished by people, at least if you hear the chatter. But he's done a lot of good things for us."
So a line has been drawn in the sand. Beathard on one side, Rudock on the other. It's become a popularity poll, even though only one person has a vote.
"It's the whole backup quarterback is the love of the town thing," Rudock said. "That's just how it is."
Does Rudock feel people give him enough credit for what he's accomplished?
"It doesn't really matter to me, or the coaches," Rudock said. "They understand what I've been able to do. The bottom line is we want to win games."
So Rudock will take the ball to start against the Hoosiers, with Beathard in the bullpen. Next week at Maryland?
Rudock's challenge is to remain on the No. 1 line, as he was from his sophomore season on at Florida prep power St. Thomas Aquinas.
"Every single day, you're challenged," Rudock said. "You have to prove yourself, and prove you're right for this team. I think that's no different than any other position.
"But it's the quarterback position. And you guys are going to make it a little bigger than it really is."
Rudock is a smart guy. He wants to do something in the field of pediatric medicine when he's done with football. He knows the playbook, inside and out. Beathard has the bigger arm, the sizzle to Rudock's steak. Both have winning qualities.
"(Beathard) has shown that he's a good quarterback," Rudock said. "We'll see what happens. I'm sure we'll learn more here in a couple of days."
It's the 11 players on offense, the 11 on defense and the 11 on special teams that win games, Rudock said, not just one person.
But his position is scrutinized more than any other. A position that only one player can play at a time. A position that generates a multitude of opinions.
Especially when you play in the shadow of the big man on campus.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.