LOS ANGELES — Jim Chaney was bubbly for most of his Rose Bowl media session on Thursday, except when it came to one subject: Jacob Eason.
It’s almost hard to remember now, but Eason was Georgia’s starting quarterback entering this season, and with no controversy. Then, through really no fault of his own, he was supplanted by freshman Jake Fromm, who leads the team into a national semifinal game on Monday.
Eason, meanwhile, is still around, and one play away from being the quarterback again. But he’s also the subject of speculation about his future once Georgia’s season is over.
That was a subject Chaney didn’t want to touch, other than to use it as a chance to praise Eason.
“We have not spoken about that,” Chaney said. “Jacob has handled this situation as well as any human being could handle it, because it’s been hard on him, I know it has. It’s been difficult. I love him to death. He’s a wonderful young man. That’s all I’d really like to talk about with that one. Because he’s a really great kid. And this ain’t about him, it’s about our football team as we move on.”
Fromm echoed Chaney, saying Eason has been “incredible” and “an awesome teammate.”
“He’s been with me every step of the way, and we’ve been great friends throughout this, and man, he’s just awesome,” Fromm said.
Eason did beat out Fromm for the starting job before the season. Chaney said the difference between the two wasn’t “significant,” but was still wide enough that “we didn’t feel comfortable going in that direction” for the season opener. Then, Eason sprained his left knee, Fromm played well, and the rest will go down in Georgia football lore.
“You couldn’t make that change at the time when Jacob got healthy. It just wouldn’t have been the right thing at that time,” Chaney said. “It’s always a performance-based business as we all know. He went out and performed at a very high level and when you’re doing that at that spot, and you’re moving the field, it’s hard to make a change.”
Georgia’s quarterback room has become an embarrassment of riches: Fromm, who led the team to an SEC championship as a freshman, Eason, the 5-star recruit who started 12 games as a freshman, and now another 5-star player on the way.
Justin Fields signed with the Bulldogs during the early signing period. And while Chaney didn’t want to touch the subject of Eason’s future plans, he did make this clear: No matter who else is around, Fromm won’t automatically retain his starting job.
“There’s always going to be open competition at that position; we’re going to play the best player. So, it could be freshmen for years,” Chaney said, then grinned. “Don’t tell Fromm that. Don’t tell everybody else that. But that’s the reality.”