Did the trade-off of Jacob Park for Greyson Lambert improve Georgia's quarterback depth chart?
In terms of pure talent, probably not.
In terms of chemistry and other intangibles, possibly so.
That's not to suggest Park would have caused any problems internally had he begun the 2015 season third on the depth chart behind Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta. But it's human nature combined with simple math. And it would only get worse next year when Jacob, the consensus No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation, arrives in Athens.
Whether it was working D.J. Shockley in a few series or red-shirting Hutson Mason in the middle of his career, Mark Richt has found creative ways to keep two very capable quarterbacks happy and involved in the team.
But no coach can find enough playing time or special packages to keep three quarterbacks content, let alone four.
Even before Lambert decided to transfer from Virginia to Georgia, there was already speculation that Park might transfer if he finished third in the three-man battle in the Bulldogs 'quarterback competition. In fairness to Park, that speculation was never sparked by anything he said, just simple logic. Park is talented enough to start and play winning football on a high level. If he's not going to get that chance at Georgia, why would he not try to play elsewhere?
Coming out of Stratford High School in Goose Creek, S.C., Park was rated among the best quarterback prospects in the country, as high as No. 5 by Rivals. With Mason starting and Ramsey and Bauta backing him up last year, that left Park serving a year of scout-team duty, where his competitiveness and elusiveness created problems for the first-team defense.
"That Park is a shifty cat," linebacker Jordan Jenkins said before spring practice.
Due to NCAA transfer rules, Park will have to spend another season of scout team duty unless he goes to a Football Championship Series level program.
Side note: It's time for the NCAA to modify that rule for players making academic progress. If all of the player's credits transfer to the new school, he should be immediately eligible. They could put some contingencies in place, such as the player not being scheduled to face his former school. But college kids transfer after their freshman year all the time for many reasons. Why should athletes be penalized? Just a thought.
Nonetheless, Park will have to sit out another season or step down a level or go to a junior college. No doubt Richt made all of those points when he tried to change Park's mind.
"We've had conversations during which we discussed all the viewpoints," said Richt. "In the end, he feels like the opportunity for significant playing time would be better at another school. I can understand his decision, and we'll support him in finding a good fit at another institution."
Lambert will find himself at the bottom of the depth chart as well. But the situations are different. Lambert already knew he wasn't going to start at Virginia. He had lost his job to Matt Johns. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining. If he wins the starting job, then good for him. If he doesn't, he's no worse off than he was, and he's much closer to home working on a master's degree.
For Park, it was almost a can't win situation. For Lambert, it's a can't lose deal.
There are fans and media people who are reading a lot into Lambert's transfer to Georgia. That general thought being this: For the Bulldogs to take him, they must not have much confidence in Ramsey or Bauta. But why would they not take an experienced quarterback with a strong arm -- oh, who also happens to be 6-foot-5? Lambert also considered Florida, which could use a pro-style quarterback with Jim McElwain as the Gators' new head coach? Would you rather have him on your sideline or in Florida's offense?
It's also presumptuous to think Lambert can't win the starting job.
We don't know how Ramsey will handle being the starter. Even if he does well, what if he gets hurt?
Lambert's situation is also different from Everett Golson's, the former Notre Dame starter who visited Georgia before eventually deciding on Florida State. Golson has one year of eligibility. He has more experience than Lambert. He is expecting to start. Bringing in a senior who is expecting to start -- whether he actually did or not -- could have disrupted the chemistry.
With Lambert replacing Park, there's no downside and plenty of upside.