Last week, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer made it clear that senior Braxton Miller, after sitting out this season, will be back as the starting quarterback in 2015.
Miller would unseat redshirt-freshman J.T. Barrett from the starting role, no matter what Barrett does on and off the field from this point on, Meyer said.
While it would be hard to argue that Miller, a two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, does not deserve the starting spot upon his return, the timing of Meyer’s declaration does puzzle me a bit.
I mean, why even say that now?
In his last three starts, Barrett has combined for 909 yards passing, an average of 303 yards per game. The most yards Miller has ever thrown for in a single game was 252 in a win against Penn State last season.
Now, of course, that is not to say Barrett is a better quarterback than Miller. For starters, Miller can do things on the ground that Barrett could not dream of. But it shows that Barrett can bring things to the table that Miller cannot, and now that he has settled in as the starter, prematurely yanking him from being able to build toward next season might not be the best move.
It’s certainly not an ideal situation for Barrett. The Wichita Falls, Texas, native was not expected to get on the field much this year until Miller tore the labrum in his throwing shoulder during fall camp, at which point Barrett was handed the keys to the OSU offense.
The worst nightmare of many was realized when Barrett looked to be in way over his head through the first two games — a sloppy win against Navy and an embarrassment against Virginia Tech.
But Barrett grew on the job, and now he looks more than capable of handling the role for the next three years of his collegiate career.
So why would Meyer say publicly now that Miller will be starting next season? Even if common sense dictates that or everyone on the team knows behind closed doors, why leave that near future of holding a clipboard hanging over Barrett’s head?
I just hope Barrett is content with stepping out of the spotlight for a year.
As soon as Miller said he planned on redshirting and coming back for a fifth year, I was reminded of the situation at North Carolina State in 2011.
In that case, Mike Glennon was the backup to Russell Wilson for two years. Former NC State coach Tom O’Brien — afraid that Glennon would transfer if he sat behind Wilson for another year — had to choose between the two. He eventually chose to release Wilson — who had also spent time playing minor league baseball during his college career — from his scholarship and Wilson transferred to Wisconsin.
That was an ugly situation that you would hate to see repeated. Given Meyer’s clear allegiance to Miller, I am fairly certain which side the coach would take.
A coach’s job is never easy, and Meyer has a potentially sticky situation to deal with. Hopefully for the Buckeye faithful, Barrett is willing and able to sit on all of his progress for a whole year.