Wilton Speight needs change of scenery, not another lap with Jim Harbaugh at Michigan
Would he serve as a bridge? Or would Wilton Speight just be in the way?
Michigan’s already curious quarterback situation got even more curious late last week when the Detroit Free Press’ Nick Baumgardner was told that Speight, Michigan’s starting signal caller in 2016 and the start of the 2017 season, would be open to returning to the Wolverines in 2018 if incoming Mississippi transfer Shea Patterson was forced by the NCAA to sit out the upcoming fall.
Speight, who appeared in 21 games for Michigan from 2015-17, graduated in December and announced after the season his intent to transfer for his final year of eligibility. A decision on Patterson’s immediate eligibility likely isn’t coming until later this month, at the earliest.
Depending on the respective statuses of Patterson (coming in) and Speight (going out), the Wolverines’ options behind center remain relatively untested, with redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters, redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey and true freshman Joe Milton having made, collectively, six collegiate appearances.
Apparently, the door’s open.
But here’s the question: Should Speight walk back through it? Former Michigan and NFL running back Chris Howard and Land of 10 writer-columnist Sean Keeler took turns weighing in …
Q: IF SHEA PATTERSON ISN’T ELIGIBLE FOR 2018, SHOULD WILTON SPEIGHT COME BACK TO MICHIGAN?
SEAN KEELER: NO
In a movie script, this would be the money scene, the preamble to the kick-ass redemption montage.
I’m ready to get on that horse one more time, coach. If you’ll have me.
Cue the drum machine!
Only problem: This ain’t Hollywood.
This is Harbaugh’s fourth season, his money season, and wolves are already scratching at the door after a Year 3 that ended with a dumpster fire in Tampa and enough questions to launch a Senate hearing.
This is a 2018 dance card in which every contest Michigan fans give the most collective damns about — Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State — are on the road.
And if you’re curious, here’s how No. 3’s career splits shake out when he’s at the Big House compared to anywhere else on the planet:
Speight at home: 62.4 completion percentage, 16 TDs, 3 picks, 148.6 passer rating
Speight on the road: 55.0 completion percentage, 4 TDs, 4 picks, 113.0 passer rating
Speight on a neutral field: 50.8 completion percentage, 2 TDs, 3 picks, 97.6 passer rating
This wouldn’t end well.
This is an offense that’s seen Speight’s ceiling, and found it still isn’t high enough to reach the candy Urban Meyer (played by Christopher Walken) keeps stashing away on the top shelf.
Big Ten coaches know it. Harbaugh and Tim Drevno probably know it, even if they’d never publicly admit it.
More to the point: Wolverines faithful know it, too. When it comes to fan sentiment, Speight is a Maize & Blue Sisyphus, fan sentiment his boulder, trying to push that bugger up a hill that’s never been steeper:
Nooooooo. Noooooo. Noooooo
— The Indefatigable J.A.C (@GovernorBlitz) January 26, 2018
Speight i don’t think can beat out peters or McCaffrey. He quit on the team and now wants to come back. I don’t let him. Sets bad precedent
— michigan ken (@bigunc1) January 26, 2018
Michigan fans after Speight says he will come back if Patterson is ineligible pic.twitter.com/pZF5I7dHV6
— Mitchel (@mitchel_dunson) January 26, 2018
The Wolverines are 2-3 against ranked teams since 2015 in showdowns in which Speight has either started or come off the bench — and one of those victories came in last fall’s season opener against a Florida bunch even more dysfunctional on offense than Michigan was at the time.
In those five appearances against Top 25 foes, Speight averaged just 165.2 passing yards while throwing for 5 touchdowns against 7 interceptions.
If there is another gear in a big game, a meaningful tilt, we haven’t seen it.
Sometimes, the only thing a second act needs to work is a little change of scenery. Clint Trickett. Garrett Gilbert. Ben Mauk. Russell Wilson, the patron saint of graduate transfers.
Speight getting the last word, the last laugh, in Ann Arbor would be a hell of a story. It really would. Unfortunately, this is reality. And at the moment, it freaking bites.