A good chunk of Georgia football fans are rooting for Jacob Eason in some way heading into the 2019 season. While no one is living or dying with every Eason pass like they did when he was Georgia’s quarterback during the 2016 season, most would like him to do well at Washington in this upcoming season.
The same cannot be said for Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The former Georgia quarterback was granted immediate eligibility at Ohio State this season and a number of Georgia fans weren’t happy about it.
In a statement released on Friday, Fields spoke on his time at Georgia since transferring. He thanked everyone for his time at Georgia, but that did little to quell some fans.
“I have no regrets about my time at UGA and have no hard feelings for the school or football program,” Fields said on Friday. “My overall experience at UGA was fully consistent with UGA’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. My sister is a softball player at UGA. I am still close friends with many of my UGA teammates. A part of me will always be a Georgia Bulldogs fan.”
Why is Fields seen as a villain to some, while many are outright rooting for Eason? Why can’t everyone wish the best for both Eason and Fields?
Maybe part of it is because Fields committed to Georgia when it had already become clear that Jake Fromm had usurped the job from Eason, and Kirby Smart had no intentions of giving the job back to Eason. Maybe part of it is because Eason sat out a season, while Fields sought immediate playing time, like he did at Georgia. There’s probably even the fact that Fields went to play at Ohio State, a much more hated program than Washington.
Many will also likely point to the timing of Fields’ initial transfer announcement. News of Fields entering the transfer portal came out the Monday before the Early Signing Period. Georgia’s season hadn’t finished yet, as the Bulldogs still had to play in the Sugar Bowl.
Reports of Eason transferring to Washington came out the day after Georgia’s season ended last year. There wasn’t a transfer portal for him to put his name into though. Had Georgia played in the College Football Playoff in 2018, Fields almost certainly follows a similar timeline. The same could be said for Eason had Georgia not made the College Football Playoff in the 2017 season.
Fields was certainly a more divisive player among the fan base while at Georgia. Eason and Fields were both better recruits than Fromm. But the calls to play Fields were louder than they ever were for Eason during the 2017 season. Fields was much more athletic and clearly had every bit of arm strength that Eason had. But with the exception of the LSU game, Fromm was an even better player in 2018 than he was in 2017.
Fields could’ve certainly handled his exit from Georgia better, and he’d probably admit that. But he, like Eason, was a 5-star quarterback who couldn’t beat Fromm. Both quarterbacks have the physical tools to become NFL quarterbacks, and they weren’t going to be able to showcase them on the bench. They both made the decision to go to places where they can do that.
By coming to Georgia, Fields bet on himself that he would be able to beat out Fromm. Fields lost that bet. Fromm made a similar bet the year before, when he came to Georgia the year after Eason had started 12 games for the Bulldogs and looked like the future. Fromm just happened to win his bet.
Fans shouldn’t hate Fields because he made a business decision. He made the same one that Eason made the year before. Hopefully, Georgia sees Washington and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff next year. And we get to see those two former Georgia quarterbacks possibly duke it out on the field with Fromm and Kirby Smart’s defense.
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