Pretend for a moment you are back in the fifth grade and it's the dreaded SAT day. You've just had lunch and your stomach is full of chicken nuggets and your teeth are covered with that slimy chocolate milk residue. You sharpen your #2 pencil, open your SAT booklet, and are confronted with the following question:
"James K. Polk is to Abraham Lincoln as Jimmy Clausen is to __________"
A. Eli Manning
B. Troy Aikman
C. Drew Brees
D. Brady Quinn
E. Who in the heck is James K. Polk?
The correct answer is obviously "E" since American History has been replaced in the public school system with other vital curriculum such as healthy eating, environmental affairs, and bullying prevention.
But from a football standpoint, it is still far too early to tell exactly what the Panthers have in Jimmy Clausen. He could be the next Eli Manning - an above average starting QB who could lead a team to a Super Bowl. Or Jimmy could be the next Troy Aikman, destroyed as a rookie but progressed as the offense improved around him. Clausen should have started his career like Drew Brees, developing and maturing from the sidelines before being thrown to the wolves. But Jimmy Clausen could also end up like another former Notre Dame QB, Brady Quinn, and fail to live up to expectations. At this point, nobody truly knows.
But the Panthers should have taken the time to find out.