When the Syracuse Orange take on the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday, in the programs first ACC road contest, there will be at least one topic announcers will talk about: senior quarterback Drew Allen's choice to transfer to SU over N.C. State during the offseason.
If you did not know, the once former Oklahoma Sooner decided to find another school after he graduated and there were two programs in the running -- Syracuse and N.C. State. Both teams had basically the same resumes, as each were looking to replace a stud quarterback with a open quarterback competition, a new head coach and a slight desperation to make an offseason splash to get fans excited about the upcoming season.
In the end, Allen chose the Orange:
I really liked what (Ryan) Nassib did, the direction of the program. They’re moving from the Big East to the ACC, the strength of schedule is favorable for exposure. If we win those games, we put ourselves in a good position to be a nationally-ranked team. The coaches were great. The schemes and type of offense (Orange offensive coordinator George McDonald) is going to run there really fits me, and is pretty much a carryover from what we’ve done at OU. The same kind of stuff.
We all know the story from there. Allen got what he wanted starting against Penn State, a nationally-ranked Nothwestern squad and a FCS program in Wagner. All the starts ended with a thud and Terrel Hunt stepped in and ran away with the starting job.
Now, this afternoon Allen will be sitting on the sidelines looking across the field at N.C. State, getting a feel for the atmosphere at Carter-Finley Stadium and probably thinking what if? What if I picked N.C. State?
For starters, if Allen picked the Wolfpack, led by first-year head coach Dave Doeren, he probably would be 3-2 as a starter. See, even if Allen lost the offseason competition for the starting gig to Brandon Mitchell, a former wide receiver at Arkansas, he would have been thrust into a playing role not even one quarter into the season because Mitchell got injured and has missed the last four weeks.
N.C. State's backup, Pete Thomas, has been steady in his starts but one has to assume Allen would have been second in line for the gig.
There's a good chance Allen would have gotten an easier game against Richmond to ease his way into the offense before facing national-ranked Clemson. After probably a tough game against the Tigers, he would have a few "easy" showdowns against Central Michigan and Wake Forest -- a game N.C. State lost last week -- to regain his confidence before Syracuse.
At this point in the season, one has to think Allen would at least have the same stats or better ones as Thomas (100-for-157, 1,163 passing yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions) heading into the "what if" game against the Orange.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball. Syracuse probably still would be sitting at 2-3 overall, though, Orange fans would argue it was Allen's poor play against Penn State that led to an opening-day loss. SU's now ew starting QB, Hunt, would be five games into what seems to be a steady and progressing career at Syracuse.
Of course, all of this is speculation but it is fun to wonder what if Allen picked N.C. State instead of Syracuse. With both paths -- Allen's and Syracuse's -- headed in a better direction?
Below, toss out your thoughts on Allen/N.C. State and an idea of what will be going through Allen's mind today while he sits on the sidelines and watches Hunt lead the Orange to its first ACC victory.