Sam McKewon is a junior news-editorial and political science major and the Daily Nebraskan sports editor.

London should have been quarterback choice

"I was pretty much packed and ready to go."

That's what Frankie London had to say to reporter Mitch Sherman on Apr. 24, 1997, about his career at Nebraska. He was prepared to leave, to transfer somewhere where he could play quarterback. Instead, he stayed.

I wonder if he would have been better off if he hadn't.

London broke his tibia and fibula in his left leg Saturday against Kansas. His season is over. He'll be out for six months. Ahead of him is a long recovery. It's a long way from almost being the starting quarterback last spring.

London now only has one year left of eligibility. He's spent four years in this program, and had little more than a few moments in the sun as a player. He had talent, but after waiting his turn at quarterback, he got passed over for a younger, faster Bobby Newcombe. He got moved to wingback, where he never saw the ball. Then he got hurt.

It's all very unfortunate. And really, it never had to happen.

London never should have lost the job. He ought to be directing Nebraska's offense right now. I never agreed with NU's decision to go with Newcombe.

Watching the first seven games this season, Newcombe had been slowed by injuries and even sat out a couple of games. When he has been in, he hasn't been the spectacular big-play quarterback Coach Frank Solich and Turner Gill touted him to be.

Case in point: Newcombe's longest run from scrimmage this season is 20 yards. That's it, 20 yards. He had a 22-yard on first play in the first game of his career against Akron. Big plays? Denied.

Blasphemy, you say? How dare I criticize Newcombe? Well, really, I'm not. Newcombe has turned out to be a surprisingly good passer - NU's most accurate since Brook Berringer. The rushing yards aren't all his fault, either. He plays behind an inexperienced line.

But as I watched Saturday as Newcombe handed the ball off a bunch and ran a few good options, I thought to myself, "Frankie could have done this." And certainly, he could have, because Eric Crouch and Monte Christo have done it, too.

What London could not do was what Newcombe did as a wingback. He was the most dangerous player on the field. Scary dangerous. With only one guy to cover him, there was a 50/50 chance Newcombe would break a big play on a pass or a reverse. On punt returns, you know he was good.

As London lay there Saturday night, I saw for him and Nebraska what could have been: London at quarterback, Newcombe turning into the next Irving Fryar and NU still undefeated.

If I had my way, it would have been.