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Jonathan Crompton and the potential value of failure

So Tennessee QB B.J. Coleman announced yesterday that he's going to transfer, throwing into a rage those folks who are quite certain that Coleman's departure leaves us with a known quantity of FAIL in Jonathan Crompton.

Maybe. Maybe not.

I can't remember who to attribute this to -- some management guru like Iaccoca or somebody -- but I've often heard the story of the guy who, when asked whether he was going to fire an employee who had made a million dollar mistake, replied, "Are you kidding? I just paid a million dollars to train him."

There is no experience like the pain of failure.

Back in the summer of 2006, fans were faced with the proposition of Erik Ainge -- who'd morphed into a mushroom cloud in LSU's end zone and generally wobbled his way through the season -- at QB. Cutcliffe was on his way back, and his primary task was the Reanimation of Erik Ainge, but many fans were convinced that he was damaged goods and that the guy behind him had to be better and had to be given a chance. Cutcliffe, though, was careful to avoid another QB controversy like the one that had plagued the entire 2005 season.

This summer, fans are again faced with the prospect of starting a QB who failed miserably in the prior season, and until yesterday when Coleman announced his departure, many fans were once again clamoring for the backup.

I am amused to no end that Jonathan Crompton played different roles in each of the 2006 and 2009 scenarios. He was the guy everyone wanted instead of Ainge back then, and he's the guy with bus tire treadmarks on his forehead now. Folks seem awfully quick to presume the potential success of the backup while discounting the potential value of the experience of failure for the presumed starter.

Jonathan Crompton may indeed prove that he is incapable of turning the horrid experience of last year into success this year. But he might just prove that he merely had the misfortune of piloting the Hindenburg in 2008. That thing was going down no matter who was behind the controls.

Why am I coming to Crompton's defense? Because I'm a Cromptonite? A Coleman-Hater? No and no. Do I think he'll succeed in 2009? I have no idea. I only know that it's an incalculable possibility.

I'm defending him because the coaches seem to have made their decision that he's going to lead the offense this year, and that means my team is in Crompton's hands. The relationship between fans and their teams can be symbiotic or it can be parasitic, and because I prefer and choose the former, I believe that it is in my best interest as a fan to attempt to help Crompton turn last year's failure into this year's success. As a mere fan, all I can do is support whoever is out there and refrain from joining in with the growing cacophony that is somehow certain of Crompton's continued failure and may just help to make it so.

We just paid a million dollars to train the guy.