Booty waits in wings for his chance to lead

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 7, 2009 - 10:54 PM

As speculation about who will quarterback the Vikings focuses on Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson, the former USC star is learning all he can.

Over the years, the University of Southern California has developed a number of quarterbacks who have done well in the NFL, and while there is a lot of discussion about who might be the 2009 Vikings quarterback, little has been said about third-stringer John David Booty, who led the Trojans to two Rose Bowls and was the only one to captain the team twice.

His former coach, Pete Carroll, believes all the fifth-round draft pick needs is time to develop into a top NFL quarterback. He didn't see any service this year.

Booty's 518 completions are fifth-best in USC history, and his 55 touchdown passes are fourth-best.

There is such a shortage of quarterbacks that former reserve Southern California quarterback Matt Cassel, who did a good job filling in for the Patriots after Tom Brady was injured, was made a franchise player for next year. The tag means he will earn about $14 million and keep him from becoming a free agent. Daunte Culpepper's coming out of retirement for the Lions further shows how hard up teams are for solid quarterbacks.

The Vikings haven't given up on Tarvaris Jackson, and the truth is that Gus Frerotte did a good job this season -- although Frerotte has indicated that he might not come back next year. He believes he's good enough to be a No. 1 quarterback.

Booty believes he has a chance to eventually be the Vikings' starting quarterback.

"To me, it's just really recognizing defenses," said Booty, who regards that as the main thing he has to learn.

"In college, every week you go against teams and usually kind of see the same thing that you've seen on film in their past games. You get to the league, and they do all their stuff -- but they usually do a couple things new every week that you're not used to, you've got to make adjustments during the game. To me, that's the biggest thing is, you're not always going to get what you've seen. You've got to be able to pick it up even though it could be something new."

Booty believes he's learned a lot this season.

"It's a learning process, especially for the quarterback, a young quarterback in the West Coast system, which isn't an easy thing to pick up," he said. "You see all these guys that have played in the West Coast system for a long time. You see what [Brett] Favre did, and [Donovan] McNabb. They've been in that same system for 10 years, but the way they're able to execute it [is the key] -- when you know what's going on at every position against every defense. So I know if I can just continue to progress and learn, hopefully one day it will pan out for me."

Booty was a much better quarterback in college than Cassel, and look what he did for New England when he got the chance this year. You never know.

Cosgrove likely to Gophers

One reason that Kevin Cosgrove is likely to replace departed Ted Roof as the Gophers defensive coordinator is that he received a very good recommendation from Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi, who spent a long time at Wisconsin when Cosgrove was a member of Barry Alvarez's staff. Cosgrove was defensive coordinator for the Badgers from 1995 through 2003 after having joined the staff in 1990. He was at Nebraska from 2004 to 2007 and was unemployed last season.

If hired, Cosgrove would be the Gophers' seventh defensive coordinator since 1997.

Roof's decision was unexpected, but he got an offer to become the defensive coordinator at Auburn. Roof's reported salary of $500,000 is a $150,000 raise. He also is an alumnus of Georgia Tech.

Gophers coach Tim Brewster was very upset about Roof's departure.

"It's not all about money," Brewster said. "He came here for one year and then leaves. It's unfair to the other coaches, and especially the kids."

Maturi said Roof was the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the Big Ten.

Brewster, meanwhile, said he is on the verge of hiring an offensive coordinator to replace Mike Dunbar, who apparently didn't agree with Brewster's plan to have new offensive line coach Tim Davis oversee the running game and Dunbar the passing game.

The word around the Bierman Building was that Dunbar will be paid until he gets a new job.

Jottings

Former Gophers basketball coach Jimmy Williams, who claims he was hired as an assistant to Tubby Smith, lost his case in court, but had his appeal heard Wednesday by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, a three-judge panel comprising David Minge, Michelle Larkin and Larry Stauber Jr. A decision will be made within 90 days.

The University of Minnesota expects to receive $1,747,000 as its conference share of the revenue from bowl games in which the Big Ten participated.

It's official: the Gophers basketball team will take part in the 76 Classic basketball tournament in Anaheim, Calif., on Nov. 26-28 that will include UCLA, Texas A&M, Clemson, Butler, and Long Beach.

The Vikings-Eagles football game last Sunday earned the top overnight Nielsen ratings among the four wild-card games. It had a household rating of 19.9. ... Boston College head football coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who was fired after interviewing for the vacant New York Jets job, played college football at Wisconsin-Whitewater under Bob Berezowitz, whose son Dan is the Gophers' recruiting coordinator.

Former Gophers Ryan Potulny, Jeff Taffe and Jeff Frazee have been named to the Planet USA AHL All-Star team that will be played later this month in Worcester, Mass. Corey Locke and Barry Brust of the Wild's AHL affiliate Houston Aeros, will play for Team Canada. Frazee has a 10-6-2 record with two shutouts for the New Jersey Devils' AHL affiiliate, Lowell. Potulny has 17 goals and 14 assist in 34 games for Edmonton Oilers' AHL affiliate, Springfield. Taffe has 16 goals and 25 assists for the Pittsburgh Penguins' AHL affiliate, Wilkes-Barre.

While in San Diego for the American Baseball Coaches Association convention, Gophers coach John Anderson and Gophers assistant Rob Fornasiere visited former Gopher Mark Merila. Merila still has some mobility limitations and communication inconsistencies from a brain tumor, which was originally diagnosed after a seizure on Siebert Field in 1994. Merila, who has been the Padres' bullpen catcher, is waiting to hear what his role will be with the team.

Former Gophers Robb Quinlan, of the Anaheim Angels, and Jack Hannahan, of the Oakland A's, are working out on campus. Quinlan is expected to sign a new contract with the Angels in the next two weeks unless he goes to arbitration.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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