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Robert Marve: Should he come or should he go?

Robert Marve

Those two words have caused breathless discussion among Purdue fans for the past several weeks. A quick look at the Purdue football message board over at GBI reveals seven threads in the top 20 alone discussing this player. It is rare that Purdue is in line to receive such a highly touted transfer, so it is only natural that there is a lot of discussion about him.

I was at this game and Marve was less than impressive in person


As a big fan of Miami's program through my Hurricane alum of a wife, I am in a bit of a unique situation on this one. As I write this, I am wearing a Harry's shirt and Miami shorts, so I know both programs very well. Very rarely do Purdue and Miami intersect in the world of football. The recruiting losses of Shayon Green and Kirby Freeman in recent years are about the only times we have had direct interaction with them. The two played a home and home series in the 80's with the Hurricanes winning both games. Our 35-0 loss at Miami in 1983 helped the ‘Canes win their first national title. Other than that, there is little history between the schools.

Mrs. T-Mill and I follow both Purdue and Miami about equally, so we got to see plenty of Marve last season. He redshirted during Miami's miserable 2007 season, though as poor as Miami's quarterbacking was that season he could have played. He mostly redshirted because of injuries sustained in a car accident during the 2007 season. That prevented him from competing with Freeman and Kyle Wright for playing time (and, in turn, forced us to watch Freeman's 1 for 14, 3 interception "performance" when we traveled to Miami for one last game in the Orange Bowl).

Wright was gone after 2007 and Freeman mercifully decided to transfer to Baylor. That left Marve to compete with incoming true freshman Jacory Harris.  Marve was named the starter for 2008, but was later suspended for the season opener due to an arrest in Coconut Grove.

To me, this was the first red flag. I made a remark to Mrs. T-Mill at the time that Marve was obviously not interested in being the starting quarterback for the University of Miami with that arrest. There comes a point where you have to examine a player's simple common sense. In this case, if you know you are going to be the starting quarterback for one of the better programs in the history of college football (a.k.a. Quarterback U.) you should know that you don't punch a car mirror and run from the cops. That is just not smart.

People do make mistakes, however. Marve served his time and platooned most of the rest of the year with Harris. Marve started the remaining 11 regular season games, completing 116 of 213 passes for 9 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and 1,293 yards. Marve also rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Here is how he stacked up with Harris:

                        Comp. Att.      Int.      TD       Yards  Rush yards     Rush TD

Marve             116      213      13        9          1,293   119                  2

Harris             118      194      7          12        1,195   101                  2

Clearly, the two players were about even. Harris ended up playing two more games because of suspensions. The first was a blowout of 1-AA Charleston Southern in the opener. The second was a bowl game loss to California in which Robert Marve was suspended again. This suspension was because he missed a class too many times. That is when things began to get ugly between Marve and Miami coach Randy Shannon. Eventually, Marve decided to transfer, limitations were placed upon his transfer (No other ACC, Florida schools, or a handful from the SEC), and we have arrived where we are today. Marve is trying to decide if he will transfer to Purdue or Tennessee. He would be forced to pay his own way at Tennessee, as that is one of the school Miami will not release his scholarship to.

I saw Marve play in person once last season. We went down for the ESPN Thursday night home game against Virginia Tech. Marve was 7 of 16 in that game for 104 yards. He also ran for 44 yards. I really wasn't that impressed with him, as Miami's offense struggled most of the night and the defense sealed the deal. He mostly managed the game and couldn't convert drives into touchdowns. Miami got three field goals on the night and had just 247 yards of total offense.

So those are the facts. This is all before we begin the firestorm of opinion out there. Here are some select opinions that are more neutral and don't infringe on the territory of wild internet speculation. The first is from a poster named SFBayCane who offered a balanced analysis of Marve on the GBI board:

Robert Marve is a very talented QB. I compare him to Pat White at WVa. Marve has a huge arm, SERIOUS wheels, better than average accuracy and is a total gamer on the field..... very similar to Pat White.

The big knock on Marve on the field is that he is a one read and run type of QB. He really struggled to go thru his progressions and was never comfortable in the pocket for very long.....just like a young Pat White.

Off the field, Marve is a total head case, created in large part by the adult posse he has in his life (his dad and high school coach at the head of this pack). Marve had a sense of entitlement that really destroyed his ability to be successful at Miami. He felt that he should be the starting QB without question, yet never really separated himself from the other freshman QB he split time with.

Also, Marve is a SERIOUS partier. He really enjoyed the Miami night life both on and off campus at the expense at such trivial things as film room time, team appointments, classes, study hall and gamenight curfews. Under a coach like Randy Shannon that stuff was just not gonna fly. Yet rather than dig in and work hard, Marve chose to listen to his ex-NFL dad and his street agent/high school coach who thought he was above the work ethic required at UM. When coach Shannon put him on notice, his daddy chose to shop him around the SEC (a full 6 weeks prior to being suspended). That is how the relationship ended with Marve and UM.

If you guys do get him, you are getting a kid with some big upside IMO, probably more so than the kid we ended up keeping at QB (Jacory Harris), but you are also getting a very immature kid who has a support group around him who do not really have his best interests at heart in a realistic sense. My prediction: If the kid can grow up and focus in, you'll have a good talent. If not, he won't last a full year before he starts messing with your team culture and starts problems. -- SFBayCane

It is safe to say that is a fair analysis. Shannon is a disciplinarian type of coach that does not tolerate off the field shenanigans. Those have been issues for Miami in the past, but not on his watch. I applaud and respect him for that. Shannon clearly set forth the rules, Marve violated them, and suffered as a consequence. The fact Marve is transferring lends speculation that Marve did not like this style of coaching, so he is gone. SFBayCane mentioned issues with the Miami nightlife (Coconut Grove is like an upscale version of State Street and has a number of bars regular patroned by UM students) and issues with academics. Those are indeed issues, as shown from his suspensions, and not just a bitter message board poster going off. The other huge elephant in the room is his father, Eugene Marve

With an aside to Bob Kravitz (who never, ever editorializes) I am going to editorialize a bit here. Papa Marve is way too involved in Robert's decisions. Robert is 20 years old. He is old enough to vote in this country, serve his country in the military, and partake in most adult decisions short of legally drinking (though rumors say he is a fan of it illegally). He is, therefore, old enough to make his own choices and not have daddy as his spokesperson in the media. The fact that many of these articles referenced here involve his father speaking for him shows me that Robert is not mature enough to face up to his own decisions and speak for himself. Daddy, whether by the force of Eugene's own personality or the cowardice of Robert hiding behind him, has spoken for him way too much.

Marve clearly has talent. He had a rough year at Miami as their receivers developed and he struggled to separate himself from another very talented quarterback. If he gets his act together, he can be a heck of a player. Still, there are way too many concerns for me to feel comfortable about him coming to West Lafayette. When I see Marve, I cannot help but think of Jeff George and Brandon Kirsch. I do not blame Kirsch for our struggles in 2005, as our defense was atrocious and couldn't stop even the most basic of plays that year. Still, Kirsch was brash and did not work well with coach Tiller. Jeff George was an unmitigated disaster of a quarterback, and like most Purdue fans, his time in West Lafayette was quickly forgotten.

I am still waiting on a response from the good folks over at the 7th Floor Blog and their thoughts on Marve. They are less than thrilled of him. It may not matter anyway, as I received an e-mail this afternoon with a fairly solid rumor saying Marve is headed to Tennessee. Regardless of if Marve is coming or not, he is not guaranteed of being handed the starting quarterback's job in 2010. Caleb TerBush will be there, as will Rob Henry, Najee Tyler, any other recruit we get for 2010, and potentially Justin Siller if he returns and is reinstated.

Personally, I don't want Marve. There are way too many red flags from his time at Miami that makes me want him as our quarterback. To me, he clearly does not handle himself well in off-the-field situations. His dad has too much influence on decisions he should be making. He has shown that neither academics nor following the rules is a priority. Maturity is something that is often overlooked in this day and age. We would be hasty to overlook a number of red flags and compromise values if we accepted Marve unless he shows that he has grown more mature. We have had worse egos (Garrett Bushong comes to mind), but at some point you have to value character. Marve has not demonstrated high character yet, and it is my hope we will continue to hold him to high character, just as Randy Shannon did, should he come to Purdue. If he becomes a Boilermaker, I will welcome and support him, but he must prove that he is a different person than he has shown before. He is not a recruit that will make or break us, so we will be fine either way.