At a big fight in Las Vegas, ring announcer Michael Buffer electrifies the arena with his patented declaration, “Let’s get ready to rumble!” Shortly after, he introduces the combatants. The bell rings and the brawl begins. If it’s a good matchup and goes the distance, the fight will last about 48 minutes.

The battle for the starting quarterback job at BYU is going to take a lot longer than that, possibly the entire summer and much of fall camp. Making it even more difficult is there doesn’t appear to be a favorite between Jake Retzlaff and Gerry Bohanon.

Both enter summer workouts dead even, according to offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick. The play caller also said BYU would not be adding another quarterback from the transfer portal. So, it’s down to these two guys with a room full of others positioning for third string.

If Buffer were to introduce the Retzlaff-Bohanon QB title fight, it might go something like this:

“Ladies and gentlemen, BYU football is proud to present, five months of competitive positioning to claim the only Cougar starting quarterback position in the world! The judge scoring this bout is head coach Kalani Sitake. And when the bell rings, the man in charge of the action, your referee, is offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick.”

Bell rings! Buffer continues.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, from a site where champions are made, Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, this is the moment we have all been waiting for – Let’s get ready to rumble!”

Crowd roars. Bell rings.

“Introducing first, fighting out of the blue corner, wearing royal with white trim, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 215 pounds, a young man who started the last four games of last season. Ladies and gentlemen, from Corona, California, presenting the former No. 1-rated junior college quarterback in the United States — Jake Retzlaff!

Bell rings! More from Buffer.

“And his opponent across the field — fighting out of the white corner and standing 6-foot-3 and weighing in at 235 pounds, wearing navy trimmed with white. He is a former Elite 11 quarterback and four-star recruit. Ladies and gentlemen, from Earle, Arkansas, presenting the former 2021 Big 12 champion and Sugar Bowl champion — Gerry Bohanon!”

The crowd erupts with anticipation as both quarterbacks are brought to the center of the field to get final instructions from Roderick the referee.

BYU quarterback Jake Retzlaff throws the ball to his teammates during a practice on the SAB outdoor practice fields at the start of spring camp in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. | Marielle Scott, Deseret News

“Jake, Gerry, I gave the instructions in the dressing room. I want a good clean fight. Any questions? Let’s get it on!”

Bell rings. Competition begins.

What happens next is up to Retzlaff and Bohanon and the tale of the tape shows both competitors bring strengths and weaknesses.

Those four starts at BYU give Retzlaff an advantage by knowing the offense, but the Cougars went 0-4 during that stretch, which included some of his rookie mistakes. Retzlaff completed 50.4% of his passes for 648 yards. He threw three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns.

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Bohanon is coming off a shoulder surgery that forced him to sit out the 2023 season at South Florida. Prior to the injury, he led No. 6 Baylor (11-2) to the 2021 Big 12 championship. Bohanon’s career marks include 3,464 yards passing, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has 1,005 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

When it comes to Division I experience this is a no-contest in favor of the more mobile Bohanon. However, if judging by health, Retzlaff was on the field last year and Bohanon wasn’t. In fact, the former Baylor star has played in just seven games since beating Ole Miss 21-7 in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2022.

Both quarterbacks have dynamic personalities and enjoy a friendship together. After a summer of conditioning and throwing the football, they will resume their face-to-face competition when fall camp begins in late July.

Whether early in practice or mid-way through, Sitake will look at the scorecards from the months-long battle and determine a starter for Aug. 31 against Southern Illinois. No matter who wins, the Cougars will be in much better shape at quarterback than last season when they marched into the Big 12 with one experienced signal caller instead of two.

Buffer first used his famous phrase in 1984, the same year BYU won the national championship. Forty years later, the line still packs a punch and best describes the summer work ahead for Retzlaff and Bohanon, so they are both ready to rumble in the fall.

BYU quarterback Gerry Bohanon receives a snap during a practice on the SAB outdoor practice fields at the start of spring camp in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. | Marielle Scott, Deseret News