College

Saturday, Dec 15 2012 11:01 PM

Jeff Evans: Father says no truth to Kessler-to-BC rumors

BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com

It's been a question on a lot of people's minds in recent weeks, and it has gained momentum since Bakersfield College's 35-14 state championship football win over City College of San Francisco Dec. 8: Is Cody Kessler going to transfer from USC to BC and become the Renegades' quarterback for the 2013 season?

I spoke with Don Kessler, Cody's father, earlier this week, and he emphasized his son is remaining at USC. Don Kessler said he and his son, a Centennial High grad, have been fielding questions about Cody's future with USC. Cody has grown weary of the inquiries, Don said.

"There's nothing going on," Don Kessler said. "Cody is a USC quarterback. We're not sure who started the rumor about leaving USC or coming back to Bakersfield but there's no validity to it. Cody is not coming back.

"He's getting ready for a bowl game (USC faces Georgia Tech in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl), then he's getting ready for spring ball and competing in spring ball."

It's easy to see why Kessler's name has been popping up.

Kessler had a fine spring season last year but was relegated to third string behind starter Matt Barkley and this season's backup, Max Wittek.

Kessler used up his redshirt year in 2011 and was only 2-for-2 passing this season.

At the conclusion of this season, he will have three years of Division I eligibility remaining.

Of course, he's going to pour all his effort into spring ball. If coach Lane Kiffin anoints him the starter for the Trojans after the spring, then all is well. But if Wittek or someone else wins the starting job for next season, could Kessler's future at USC change?

"There's no other thought in his mind other than being the quarterback at USC,” Don Kessler said. “He doesn’t talk about the ‘what-ifs.’ That’s not where his mindset is.”

But allow me to conjecture about a “what-if.”

Cody Kessler wants to be a starting quarterback. If that door is closed at USC after spring football, he has some options.

•  He could remain at USC and continue battling for the starting job, or at least for increased playing time throughout the remainder of his college years.

There’s plenty of advantages to doing that. His father says Cody is ahead in credits. He’s done well in the classroom, twice making the honor roll.

Staying at USC, even if the starting quarterback job eludes him, is still a solid option. His education is being paid for. The value of a USC diploma is incalculable.

•  He could transfer to a program where he would be a starting quarterback, or at least have a better shot at being the starter if that door is closed at USC.

The problem with transferring is he’d need to sit out a season per NCAA transfer rules should he opt to go directly from USC to another Division I program.

Remember: He’s already used his redshirt year.

And that’s the rub, and why Kessler’s name is being linked to BC: If Kessler decides to leave USC and wants to play a season before landing at another Division I program, he’d need to transfer to a junior college.

If he goes D-1 to D-1, he sits a year and has two years of eligibility remaining.

If he goes D-1 to D-1 with a JC year in between, he plays the JC year and still has two years of D-1 eligibility remaining.

Kessler isn’t going anywhere in the short term. He may stay at USC no matter what happens this spring.

BC is an option, of course, should Kessler grow disenchanted during spring football.

It’s way too early to speculate that Kessler is leaving USC. But it is an intriguing option if spring ball turns into a disappointment.

In the meantime, as Don Kessler said: Cody isn’t going anywhere. He’s a USC quarterback.

I asked BC coach Jeff Chudy about Kessler. Chudy said he has not spoken to anyone in the Kessler family about Cody coming to BC.

“He’s getting ready for a bowl game and he’s going to battle it out in the spring,” Chudy said. “I’m sure that’s where his focus is.”

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