Everyone likes to say that competition is good.

In theory, it has great benefits for college football. More competition for national championships equals more engaged fanbases. More offseason competition for roster spots equals more prepared teams come fall.

But at quarterback? Nah. I’d rather not have competition. I’d rather have an established QB1 who won’t split reps with anyone in fall camp.

It appears the SEC has taken to that thinking, as well. There’s a notable lack of quarterback battles in the SEC exiting spring camp.

Think about it. How many places have true battles? Vandy? Maybe South Carolina or Auburn? Those are 2 places where there seems like an obvious QB1 to start the season (LaNorris Sellers at South Carolina and Payton Thorne at Auburn) with 2 coaches who are unwilling to name starters. Florida and Texas have electric younger quarterbacks that everyone can’t wait to see, but both programs still have established starters.

It seems fairly easy to predict who’ll take the first snap for each SEC team to start 2024. Like, it’s so easy that instead of doing an additional column for it, I’ll just do it right here:

  • Alabama — Jalen Milroe
  • Arkansas — Taylen Green
  • Auburn — Payton Thorne
  • Florida — Graham Mertz
  • Georgia — Carson Beck
  • Kentucky — Brock Vandagriff
  • LSU — Garrett Nussmeier
  • Mississippi State — Blake Shapen
  • Mizzou — Brady Cook
  • Oklahoma — Jackson Arnold
  • Ole Miss — Jaxson Dart
  • South Carolina — LaNorris Sellers
  • Tennessee — Nico Iamaleava
  • Texas — Quinn Ewers
  • Texas A&M — Conner Weigman
  • Vanderbilt — Diego Pavia

Any pushback on that list from the non-Nate Johnson crowd? If I set the over/under at 15 correct picks, would you take the “under?”

That’s the byproduct of SEC quarterback play looking better than ever. Five returning starters led their teams to either a New Year’s 6 or a Playoff berth in 2023 (Beck, Milroe, Ewers, Dart and Cook). Beck and Ewers are the preseason Heisman favorites while 9 SEC quarterbacks are in the top 19 of the preseason odds (via DraftKings).

RELATED: Are you looking to track the 2024 Heisman Trophy odds? SDS has you covered with the latest odds across a variety of platforms!

Mertz and Weigman were both QB1 when healthy last year while Arnold, Nussmeier and Iamaleava got the bowl game start as decorated quarterbacks-in-waiting after their starters departed. There are transfers like Green, Shapen and Vandagriff who all seem like obvious starters coming out of spring. That’s how you get to 13 of 16 with obvious starters.

Auburn and South Carolina aren’t part of that 13 because they didn’t make a splashy portal addition (no offense to Robby Ashford). But for all we know, Sellers will be even better than Iamaleava and Arnold, all of whom should get the keys to their respective offenses in their second seasons. It’s just tougher to project that when Sellers has yet to attempt a pass against FBS competition.

Does this mean that this will be the new trend? I wouldn’t say that’s fair. Last year, it felt like we had post-spring battles galore in the SEC. It could just be a coincidence that it lined up this way and that there aren’t a bunch of Ohio State-like battles with a bowl game starter (Devin Brown) and a proven transfer (Will Howard) stepping in.

I wonder how much of this could be related to coaches realizing that they don’t have to worry about the post-spring transfers at quarterback as much as they might’ve previously thought. You rarely see Power 5 programs turn to that and if they do, the learning curve can be significant early on (Auburn). Shoot, even 2018 Joe Burrow was limited early on in that LSU offense after arriving as a post-spring transfer.

The portal has made it so that few teams can have quarterback depth anymore. A program like Arkansas might’ve had a battle heading into spring, but Sam Pittman was clear that Green entered camp and won the job, which prompted last year’s QB2, Jacolby Criswell, to enter the portal. If Arkansas wanted to replace Criswell, it could do so. Instead of being coy for the sake of keeping a guy on his roster, Pittman was honest.

There’s value in having this figured out well before fall camp. Sure, you can win a national title with an in-season quarterback change (either because of poor play or injury). In the 4-team Playoff era, 2014 Ohio State, 2017 Alabama, 2018 Clemson and 2021 Georgia all won titles with different guys who entered the season as QB1.

But ideally, that’s not how it goes. Every coach would rather have what the past 2 national champs had. That is, an incumbent starter who entered the season and started every game en route to 15-0. Easier said than done? Absolutely.

It’s almost like the way a recruiting class is set up. More times than not, your quarterback is one of your first verbal commitments. Take care of that because it’s priority No. 1.

There’s been a major push for SEC teams to get their QB situations figured out earlier rather than later. Some did that out of luxury, some did that out of necessity. It doesn’t mean a golden age of SEC quarterbacks is imminent, but nothing would suggest that’s impossible.

If that’s the discussion at season’s end, well, that’s the type of competition I can get on board with.