Flawed system kept Moore from ultimate goal


You can imagine Kellen Moore's delight if his NFL career leads to a Super Bowl, where his team will have earned the right through a tournament format to play for a championship.

That way, he could feel good about something that was unjustly denied in college.

(New Year's resolution No. 1: Limit self to one negative shot per day at Bowl Championship Series cartel.)

The winningest quarterback in college football history deserved a grander stage on which to play his final game for Boise State, but Moore made the most of another MAACO Bowl Las Vegas appearance Thursday night against an Arizona State side lacking in almost every important way except coeds.

Boise State won 56-24 before 35,720 at Sam Boyd Stadium, in part because you had to wait until halftime to notice any high draft picks for the Sun Devils, but those were wearing cheerleader uniforms and didn't seem all that interested in being responsible for allowing a third play of 100 yards.

Yep. Arizona State surrendered two of them.

Do you realize how difficult that is to do?

The Sun Devils also had issues with Moore, who completed 26 of 34 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn't his best game and yet above average was more than enough to beat Arizona State, which did a terrific job representing the mediocre tag assigned most Pac-12 teams this season.

The way Boise State opened the second half -- a Moore interception after his arm was hit and him then fumbling a snap for another turnover -- you almost thought someone from ESPN had quietly asked the Broncos to keep things somewhat close so that TV sets across America wouldn't simultaneously turn to something more competitive, such as "Top Chef."

But this column began with Moore and an NFL reference because if you don't think he will play for years in the league, you are either crazy or a Mountain West Conference official still bitter about the Broncos taking their blue unis and blue turf to the Big East.

The word from those whose bathroom cabinets are stocked with hair gel and who spend their lives predicting where players will fall in the draft believe Moore is a midround selection and career NFL backup.

There are worse fates if proven true. The average salary for quarterbacks is nearly $2 million, and not many at the position take home less than $750,000 annually, or what Arizona State probably would be fined if it were an NFL team answering for all those yellow flags and unsportsmanlike play.

Hair gel types believe Moore's arm isn't worthy of an NFL starter, that at 6 feet 1 inch and 190 pounds, he doesn't own the size or the strength to lead a team to enough wins on Sundays.

Here we go again with the nonsense about weak arms. Drew Brees supposedly has one, but his is weighted down by that Super Bowl ring.

JaMarcus Russell could throw from here to Beijing.

He's looking for work today.

"Kellen has all the special intangibles you want," Arizona Sate coach Dennis Erickson said. "I promise you, he will play in (the NFL), and he will play in it for a long time because he has such a great feel for the game and such great accuracy. He knows the game and understands it and just makes plays.

"He throws it where no one thinks he can throw it and does it for touchdowns. His arm is a lot stronger than people think. He gets the ball out of his hands so quickly and always knows where he's going with it."

Too much is made of measurables and not enough of what exists inside a helmet. Moore on Thursday won his 50th college game, five more than anyone else in history. He didn't break Colt McCoy's record of 45. He crushed it.

"Records are meant to be broken," Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler said. "But it might take someone 100 years to get that one."

Moore lost three games in college by a total of five points and threw two or more interceptions just four times. Read that last sentence again. It's amazing. He also never lost to a team from the cartel in six chances.

Tim Tebow. John Skelton. Dan Orlovsky.

What, you think Moore couldn't step in and create the same kind of NFL success as some of the players coming off the bench this season?

"Certainly, it's fun to look at the opportunities ahead," Moore said. "You want to play in (the NFL). You think you can do this pretty well. It will be fun. It will be a challenge."

It will be tougher than beating Arizona State, but that's only because the cheerleaders chose not to suit up after halftime. Kellen Moore will make it, all right, and one day he might even compete in a true playoff tournament, unlike the joke of a system his college team and others like it are limited by today.

(New Year's resolution No. 2: Accept that I have no chance of following No. 1.)

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday on "Monsters of the Midday," Fox Sports Radio 920 AM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

 

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