NORTHRIDGE — Shortly after John L. Smith took over as football coach at Utah State early in 1995, he pulled Aaron Flowers aside and suggested he find another school, because he would never be a starting quarterback at Utah State.
He was wrong.
Flowers will start at Utah State on Sept. 7.
For Cal State Northridge.
With Monday's announcement that Flowers had beaten out Derek Brown for the Matadors' starting quarterback job, Flowers' college football career will soon come full circle.
After Smith told Flowers he didn't fit in at Utah State, Flowers played a year at Valley College and then transferred to Northridge. When he signed, he didn't even know Utah State was on the schedule.
But it didn't take him long to notice.
"I think about it every day and every night," the junior said.
While he may have been hoping to start that game, not until Monday did he know for sure. Speaking to reporters after his first practice as the No. 1 quarterback, he expressed more relief than joy at winning the job.
"The only real comment I want to make is [Coach Dave Baldwin] made the decision and now it's up to me to prove that he made the right decision," he said. "I don't really want to talk about it that much. I just want to go forward from here."
Brown, a junior who was last year's backup and came into camp as the top quarterback, was not at Monday's practice for "personal reasons," Baldwin said.
Baldwin said Brown was expected back today.
The decision came as a surprise to no one. Flowers passed for 3,135 yards last fall at Valley. Although larger schools shied away from him because of his size--6 feet, 195 pounds--and because he wouldn't be eligible to participate in spring football, he was a perfect fit in Baldwin's pass-oriented offense.
"I think the biggest thing was Aaron's big-play capability," Baldwin said. "It was close. Derek Brown has done everything and more than we thought he would at this time. But the big plays, when we reviewed the films and the scrimmages, came from Aaron Flowers.
"And that's what this offense is all about."
Ron Kopita, Northridge vice president in charge of student affairs, is reviewing the cover-up of Shayne Blakey's gunshot wounds. Later this week he will recommend to Blenda J. Wilson, the school president, if further disciplinary action will be taken against Athletic Director Paul Bubb, Baldwin or Blakey.
Kopita said he was shocked when he returned from his vacation Friday and learned that Baldwin had lied to reporters about Blakey's injury, saying the running back had undergone an appendectomy.
"The philosophy . . . is that the athletic program is really in some ways a window to the campus because of the high visibility," Kopita said. "The players and coaches have to conduct themselves at the highest level and the information we give to the public has to be honest.". . . .
Senior receiver David Romines, who caught a team-leading nine passes during Saturday's scrimmage, did not practice Monday because of the pounding his body took.
"He's proved he can play," Baldwin said. "We'll let him have a day off to get healthy."
Sophomore offensive lineman David San Vicente (broken tooth), junior offensive lineman Sean Anderson (sprained ankle) and senior receiver Tim Hilton (strained hamstring) all practiced Monday. Each had missed the scrimmage with injuries. Junior offensive lineman Paul Sauter (sprained ankle) is still listed as day-to-day.