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Tony Levine Names David Piland Starting Quarterback

Coach Levine's open competition at the quarterback position lasted just over a month, with the long-expected announcement on Tuesday that sophomore David Piland had won the starting job.

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 02:  Tony Levine of the Houston Cougars on the sidelines during the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium on January 2, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 02: Tony Levine of the Houston Cougars on the sidelines during the TicketCity Bowl at Cotton Bowl Stadium on January 2, 2012 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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A decision that has seemed inevitable since late in the 2010 season became official on Tuesday afternoon, as head coach Tony Levine tabbed sophomore David Piland the heir apparent to Case Keenum.

In case you're new to the Cougar football program, here's the timeline in a nutshell.

September 18, 2010: Case Keenum is injured in a Cougar loss to UCLA, in their third game of the season. Soon after, it is announced that Keenum will miss the rest of the season.

September 25, 2010: True freshman quarterback Terrance Broadway gets the first post-Keenum start, in a home game against Tulane. The Cougars win the game, 42-23, but Broadway's performance is less than stellar. He throws for just 174 yards on 28 attempts, turns the ball over three times, and is not responsible for a touchdown.

October 9, 2010: Despite Broadway's 1-0 record, fellow true freshman David Piland gets the next start, a 47-24 home loss to Mississippi State that snaps the Coogs' 18-game home winning streak. Piland will start every game for the rest of the year, despite the frequent occurrence of Houston fans chanting Broadway's name during games. Piland puts up respectable numbers by true freshman standards, averaging 330 passing yards per game over eight starts, completing over 58% of his passes, and putting up 24 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. But criticisms crop up over Piland's ability to win (or perceived lack thereof) as the Coogs go just 2-6 with him as a starter.

December 11, 2010: After the season, Broadway announces his intention to transfer, despite staff promises that Broadway would be given a fair shot to win back the starting job during the off-season. Broadway ends up at Louisiana-Lafayette.

January 14, 2011: Case Keenum is granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

January 2, 2012: Keenum and the Cougars dominate Penn State in the Ticket City Bowl, putting the finishing touches on a 13-1 season and Keenum's career. Piland doesn't play during the 2012 season, taking his redshirt year, and giving him three years of eligibility left, starting with the 2012 season.

March 8, 2012: Coach Tony Levine announces an empty depth chart at every position, including quarterback. Nonetheless, Piland is widely expected to win the starting job.

April 10, 2012: Levine announces Piland as the starting quarterback for the 2012 season.

With no Broadway to provide competition, Piland finds himself much more popular among the Cougar faithful than he was the last time he took the field in a game. You'd be hard-pressed to find a UH fan who doesn't like Piland's potential, his 2-6 record as a starter all but forgotten.

And it's not difficult to see why. Despite the poor win-loss record, the Cougars did score almost 35 points per game under Piland. If you extend that out to an entire season, and give Piland Houston's improved 2011 defense, the Coogs would have outscored their opponents by an average of 12 points per game; and that's with true freshman Piland. He has now had two entire off-seasons to adjust to college play, and an entire season of learning behind Keenum.

Piland will have to break in four new starting wide receivers, but he will have an experienced offensive line in front of him, and a defense that figures to be leaps and bounds better than what he was working with in 2010. All in all, it's easy to see why Piland has Cougar fans expecting big things, not a rebuilding year, in 2012.

The 2-6 record? It is, quite literally, a thing of the past.

Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.