The offseason gets called the silly season for a reason -- it's easy to go all Stretch Armstrong in search of posts during the dog days of July.
Sure, the Oklahoma quarterback has never started a game and attempted only 20 passes in his career. He didn't exactly seize control of the starting job this spring, either.
Yet, that didn't stop Sports Nation from voting in favor of Bell as the quarterback they would prefer. Maybe they just like his cool nickname?
The argument from the Oklahoma side basically goes that Ash was bad in both Cotton Bowls in which he played, which completely fails to understand the context in which he struggled -- neither game was his fault. Blowouts don't happen because of poor quarterback play. They happen because of team meltdowns and there's no question that there is plenty of blame to go around for the debacles the last two seasons.
And the question isn't even about who will play better when the two teams face off on what should be a fateful Saturday. Instead, it's the nebulous question of which quarterback will have the better season. How is that even defined? Team success? Personal success? More yards? Better passer rating?
Then there's the fact that there's a reason why scouting quarterbacks is an incredibly inexact science, even for NFL scouts. Talent doesn't translate into success consistently at the position because there are so many other factors that influence production, which makes predicting that a quarterback completely unproven in college will be better than a proven one quite foolish, at least to these eyes.
The popular perception also underscores an odd point about Ash -- there are plenty of people out there who think that he's complete garbage. Fair enough, if one only assesses the play from his freshman season, though he took care of the football and made the necessary plays against Cal in the Holiday Bowl to end that campaign, a performance that helped him play mostly mistake-free football the following spring and turn in a strong, if inconsistent sophomore campaign.
Much like the Texas defense last year, people seem to only have a visceral impression of Ash. He was bad in the Cotton Bowl and got pulled for Case McCoy in two games, though the latter contest, against TCU, was more about the Texas starter finding himself unable to play through injury rather than struggles caused by a lack of preparedness for adversity. The takeaway for many people from all that basically seems to be that Ash is just terrible.
Yet, the fact that he finished ahead of Landry Jones in passer rating to end up at No. 20 seems to hold no sway for the legions of Ash haters out there. Nor the fact that he finished tied for 13th in yards per attempt and completion percentage, positioning that not only suggests that Ash was accurate, but that he was also capable of stretching the field. Most people probably don't know that he was more effective in downfield passes than either Matt Barkley or Geno Smith.
Oh yeah, and those game-winning throws, which are sometimes thrown in as a begrudging admission of success, but somehow beside the point. Um, okay?
Ash improved from his freshman to his sophomore season. Tremendously, in fact. He showed that he could recover from adversity with his performance in the bowl game. He's elite for his age group -- only Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is clearly a better BCS-level starter among those who have started over parts of 2011 and 2012 (a group that does not include Johnny Manziel since he redshirted). He was near-elite last season based on his body of work and could make the jump to elite this season.
And yet the narrative surrounding Ash remains one of extreme skepticism, the subject of jokers on Twitter with stupid takes about how Texas can never succeed with a quarterback like the Belton product.
It's a bunch of ignorant garbage and while that shouldn't be surprising -- this is the internet, after all, it's no less frustrating as a result. Ash deserves better, because his achievements merit it.
In the end, though, much like the Texas team, Ash simply needs to go out this season and prove all those doubters that they were just really wrong all along.