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Why burn Boyle's redshirt?

By Mike DiMauro

Publication: The Day

Published November 14. 2013 4:00AM

One letter separates the concepts of "revolving" and "evolving." One letter. And yet nothing better illustrates the breadth of UConn football's dysfunction.

Out goes evolving freshman Tim Boyle, the future just a few weeks ago, the victim of the revolving game of quarterbacks. In comes Casey Cochran, who suddenly gives UConn "its best chance to win" as if winning were somehow paramount, 1-8 being so different than 0-9.

Absurd.

And now they have squandered Boyle's redshirt, halting his ability to adjust and learn lessons that would benefit the program's future. Ah, yes. The future. That old thing. An entire year of a quarterback's career. Shot to hell. All to beat SMU, Temple, Rutgers and Memphis for a coaching staff that, you know, should rent and not buy.

Seriously. The best reason to start Cochran now is because he gives UConn its best chance to win? And winning is more important now than Boyle's evolution? Really?

Athletic director Warde Manuel should have given this coaching staff explicit instructions the day Paul Pasqualoni was fired: Every single decision through the end of the season should benefit the future. Not imperil it.

Which would include this: You burn a redshirt, you play the kid and live with the consequences. As Helen Reddy sang: It's wisdom for the pain.

I'm not trying to turn Boyle into Joe Montana. He's struggled badly. Some of that is the function of being a freshman. Some of that is an offensive line with more holes than Bethpage Black. But how in the blazes is Boyle ever going to evolve if he sits, especially now against defenses that aren't nearly as good as what Boyle has faced?

Example: The Giants actually had a winning record in 2004 when Tom Coughlin replaced Kurt Warner with Eli Manning. They turned the ball over ten times in the next four games, lost them all and scored a combined 37 points, killing any chance at the playoffs.

But Manning evolved. The Giants made the playoffs the next year. And the year after. And the year after. And the year after. There was a Super Bowl in there, too.

Note to the dullards: This is not a comparison between Tim Boyle and Eli Manning. It's merely a suggestion that evolution requires patience and vision. If you make the bold move to the kid, have some conviction. This is a desperation move by a lame duck coach that's worried about now.

There is no now for UConn football, other than playing out the season inside an empty stadium.

This is, no doubt, going to be viewed as a slap at Cochran. Au contraire. I love the kid. Known him and his family for almost 10 years now. He could be the governor one day. And if he threw for 470 yards and six touchdowns Saturday, I'll be the first guy to rain hosannas.

But it wouldn't be the point.

The point is the shortsightedness of blowing Boyle's redshirt. If they weren't fully committed to Boyle, he should never have started the South Florida game. They should have played Cochran or kept Chandler Whitmer. What, Cochran is that much of a better player now than he was a month ago? And even if he is, why is that relevant?

All this is written mindful that it could all be moot. The new coach might not like any quarterback here and bring in his own guy. But for now, Boyle offers the most potential. Is he truly the guy? A matter of opinion. But we'll never know until Boyle is given every opportunity, preferably one day with a legitimate offensive line.

For now though, there's a coup d'état on the evolution revolution at UConn. It's Casey Cochran's turn to throw the ball under siege.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.

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