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Editor's note:

Conventional wisdom says a team with two starting quarterbacks is a team with no starting quarterback. Tell that to BYU, which split time between Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps, and took down Washington. Inspired by the Cougars, The Tribune debuts its own two-headed monster:

Starting at columnist …

Gordon Monson (regular text)


Kurt Kragthorpe (in italic text).

I have a friend, a wealthy, aggressive businessman, who once told me whenever he tried to take over an enterprise, thinking his sheer innovative genius could run the thing forever better than the owners before, he lost his shirt, his shoes, his shorts in the attempt. BYU tried something with its quarterbacks on Saturday that nobody else ever does. Turn-taking.

Two things are never successfully shared: quarterbacking and column writing. For Gordon to give up (almost) half of his allotted (but never adhered to) 600 words today illustrates his team-first attitude. A lot of people have doubted that we could ever do it. This co-op arrangement could succeed only at The Salt Lake Tribune, a unique institution.

It's like the great Jake Heaps said after BYU's win over Washington: "When you have two selfish people, that's a problem." This isn't so much a competition between Heaps and Riley Nelson, after all, it's a partnership. Riley loves Jake. Jake loves Riley. Two guys haven't demonstrated this kind of cooperation since Batman and Robin, Lennon and McCartney. Who knows where this could lead … A co-presidency? A shared Miss America or Miss Universe crown? Two popes or two prophets for a lost world? For quarterbacks, who typically are red personalities, dynamic and driven and quintessential ball hogs, these two seem to want to take a long stroll, hand in hand, on the beach together. Is that an Honor Code violation?

If Bronco Mendenhall is going to split the quarterback job, why not his own? I'm thinking Bronco and Holly as co-coaches, just like the Ute gymnastics program.

Or Bronco and Lance Reynolds, since Reynolds was more qualified to be head coach in the first place. Look, I'm still struggling to get used to this whole your-turn-my-turn QB deal. It's easier to get your mitts around over the short term, or in specific situations, such as Heaps as the starter and Nelson as the Wild Cougar. But Mendenhall insists that the Nelson-Heaps 50-50 split could go on and on and on through the entire season. And if it goes on through the entire season, then does it go on through all of next season, too, until Nelson graduates?

Great point. Like Heaps after Nelson's two touchdown passes, I'm the first one congratulating you.

High-five back at ya, bub.

The plan actually made sense for the season opener, but could you imagine 26 games of rotating? This substitution pattern was more radical than anything Jim McMahon and Marc Wilson experienced, and that about drove them crazy. What happens after a loss?

Bronco claims there's "zero friction" between Nelson and Heaps. I'm not buying it. These guys are, at their cores, alpha dogs, they are playmakers, they are leaders who are used to carrying the load, and getting the glory, themselves. The highly touted freshman is probably satisfied just to be getting playing time ­­— right now. But how about in two weeks, six weeks, 10 weeks? By then, all the we-are-the-two-best-friends-that-anybody-could-have talk will fade. The talk may not fade, but the competitive true inner thoughts may emerge.

Wait. For all the preoccupation with the quarterbacking, you'd think Saturday's victory was just an exhibition. The BYU defense won that game. The Huskies had four possessions after falling behind 23-17, and they ended with Shane Hunter stuffing a third-and-1 play, Brian Logan breaking up a fourth-down pass, Vic So'oto hurrying Jake Locker into a third-down incompletion and Eathyn Manumaleuna making a heady, game-saving deflection.

Manumaleuna, who has a habit of knocking down balls in critical moments, eloquently described that huge pass play like this: "It hit me in the forehead."

The outcome was significant. When running back Harvey Unga withdrew from school in May, I said an 0-4 start was not inconceivable for BYU. Now, a 3-1 September appears reasonable.

Harvey Who? JJ DiLuigi got 152 rushing and receiving yards in his first start. One important thing we learned from the opener is that the Cougars are good. Young, but good. Good enough, if they remain dialed in, to beat most of the teams on their schedule. For them, they have to follow the example set by their rivals to the north in 2004 and 2008: Focus on every game, every week, and take nothing for granted. That's something they've messed up in seasons past. "One game at a time" is the king of football clichés for a reason — it's a key to mastering destiny. BYU still has possible losses on the road at Florida State, TCU, and Utah to face down. What it doesn't want to deal with is a loss on the road to Air Force.

Zzzzzzzzzzzz. My turn, already? Now I know how Nelson felt when he appeared just long enough in the third quarter to throw the winning TD pass. In nearly 20 minutes of game time, he took three snaps. How am I supposed to stay in any kind of rhythm here?

Complaining so soon? Whose column day is it, anyway?

Hey, I'm on scholarship too. Here's the real issue: Who finishes? Writers want the last word, QBs want the ball. Suppose BYU trails Air Force by three points with two minutes left, ball on the 20-yard line. Heaps or Nelson?

Got to be Heaps. He's the one who can hit the sideline routes necessary to stop the clock, especially if timeouts are scarce. Bless Nelson's heart, he's plucky, he can run and all, but his banana balls won't turn the trick. In this case, the finisher is the real starter, not the quarterback who gets the game's first series.

That's sound thinking, which is why I'm wrapping this up. I still remember Nelson's game-winning drive for Utah State against Fresno State in 2006.

Oh, no you're not. And the Aggies' alternative was Leon Jackson III, not Heaps. Don't contradict yourself. The one thing we agree on: Heaps, ultimately, will wear the crown.

Like Miss Virginia.

Like Miss Mexico.

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Gordon Monson Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 The Zone. He can be reached at Kurt Kragthorpe can be reached at