Husker fans are split on Taylor Martinez. What does Martinez still need to prove to his critics? (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
34 quarterbacks were named to the preseason watch list for the Davey O'Brien Watch List for the best quarterback in college football. Taylor Martinez appears on this list along with Ohio State's Braxton Miller, Michigan's Denard Robinson, Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase, and Iowa's James Vandenberg. Robinson was a semifinalist last year along with Southern Cal's Matt Barkley, Clemson's Tajh Boyd, Texas Tech's Seth Doege, Oklahoma's Landry Jones, Washington's Keith Price, and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson. Arkansas State's Ryan Aplin is also on the list.
Basically, every decent established starting quarterback is on this list. (I mean, even Iowa's quarterback made this list. It's not like it's some exclusive thing. Heck, Vandenberg pretty much eliminates "decent' from the requirements for this list.) It'll be trimmed down to 16 semifinalists on October 22nd and three finalists on November 19th. So why do some Husker fans roll their eyes at the mention of Martinez on this list? He started every game last season, and there's no reason to not expect him to be the starting quarterback this season.Nebraska fans have a love-hate relationship with Martinez. Very few have mixed emotions, though. You either love him, or hate him. Remember the whole ridiculous "T-Magic for Heisman" campaign from the early part of his freshman season? Rubbed me the wrong way, that's for sure. Then he gets hurt just before halftime against Missouri, and everything changed. He no longer was the explosive runner, and had to depend on the rest of his game...and that's something that wasn't well developed. There was the sideline "discussion" with Pelini, apparently after fielding a call from his dad in the locker room. There were rumors of him quitting the team shortly thereafter, and allegations he was a prima donna. In the closing stages of the Big XII championship game, he was essentially benched as the Huskers went primarily Wildcat with Rex Burkhead taking the snap.
Last season, he threw three interceptions against Wisconsin on national television, and some fans gave up on him. Some never were on board, others were lost as Martinez seemed to be lost. But after that game in Madison, Martinez got better. He had a great game against Ohio State, and only threw two interceptions the rest of the season. He did a better job with ball security. His mechanics are horrible, but he's been working on improving that as well this spring.
And some people still want to see him benched for Brion Carnes. Today, I read someone calling for Tommy Armstrong. They wish Martinez would transfer, or just quit.
Others want to see Martinez's new mechanics. They remember the explosive runner and have seen him grow and develop into a quarterback. National writers see the development as well, and give him credit for that. But the "haters gonna hate", so to speak.
Here's my question: what will it take for Husker fans to be more solidly behind Martinez? Husker fans famously booed Scott Frost in his senior season, only to see him take command of the team and lead the Huskers to the national championship in 1997.
If you are a Martinez critic, what will it take for you to change your mind? If you like Martinez, what do you think it will take to change others minds? And what would it take for Martinez to be named a semifinalist or finalist by the end of this season.