Boise State Football

Decision '08: The primary debate on the BSU campus is who coaches will vote in as the Broncos' starting quarterback

Competing for a starting quarterback job in college football is kind of like running for president.

There's intense, daily pressure.

Media scrutiny.

Debates (football calls them scrimmages).

Public opinion polls.

An expectation of perfection.

A seemingly endless campaign.

And perhaps most importantly, nobody remembers the also-rans. The glory goes to the victor alone.

The Boise State football team opens fall camp Monday at East Junior High without a starting quarterback for the second straight year.

The leading candidates: senior Bush Hamdan and freshman Kellen Moore, the two who excelled in the spring primaries.

"I'd say it was a dead heat," offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said, "especially with the way Bush finished up spring. Bush in the Spring Game was very good - probably one of the best I've ever seen from him. He played in that game the way we want him to play."

Hamdan will get the first snaps with the first-team offense this fall, Harsin said. Moore, junior Nick Lomax and sophomore Mike Coughlin will get chances, too, but they also must take turns practicing with the newcomers and select veterans in the afternoon during the first four days of camp.

Harsin wants to use the first eight days of camp - through the first scrimmage Aug. 11 - to determine the progress each quarterback made in the nearly four-month grind since spring ball ended.

Last year, the first week of camp was when then-senior Taylor Tharp surprisingly seized control of the quarterback race.

"We'll see how different it is from spring," Harsin said, "and if it's not, then obviously we have a pretty good idea of where we need to go."

Harsin has refined his quarterback expectations this season based on the success of the Broncos' past four starters. Bart Hendricks (1997-2000), Ryan Dinwiddie (2001-03), Jared Zabransky (2004-06) and Tharp (2007) are honored with signs on Harsin's wall listing their accomplishments.

As the quarterbacks exit Harsin's office, they look directly at a sign spelling out Harsin's priorities: toughness, preparation, decision-making and accuracy.

"You look at the history we've had with our quarterback and the guys who have been successful for us have been tough guys," Harsin said. "They've been mentally tough, they've prepared themselves and they've been able to take the criticism and everything that goes along with the position."

Sounds like a recipe for success - on the football field or the campaign trail.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398