In case you somehow missed it, the hot social media debate du jour amongst Ohio State fans has nothing to do with Ohio State's historic run to the first ever College Football Playoff Championship Game, their incredible narrative reshaping win over Alabama, or their remarkable resilience in moving after losing two Heisman short list quarterbacks. But rather, all some Ohio State Buckeye want to talk about these days is the future of Braxton Miller.
Miller suffered a re-aggravation of a shoulder injury this past summer causing him to go under the knife again and miss the entire 2014 season. J.T. Barrett stepped up dutifully and grew into one of the best quarterbacks in the country before going down against Michigan, knocking him out for the year as well. Cardale Jones, since taking the baton, has more than run with it, destroying Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship Game and shocking Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
With no literal guarantees in terms of him resuming his place as a starting quarterback, message board/paysite rumors have tied Miller from Oregon (multiple times), Kentucky, Florida State, heck, even Duke. The Miller camp remains mum, other than his father, who told the Columbus Dispatch Braxton Miller still plans to stay (albeit with a bit of hedge language). Ohio State coaches ranging from Tom Herman to Urban Meyer (who reiterated it this past week) have all gone on the record saying they expect Braxton back.
And then there was this:
One of those RT to choose one opinion, Fav for another appeared on the timeline of the Buckeye's Twitter account, who then proceed to FAV to choose ... Oregon to win the national title game?
Miller quickly took back to Twitter to clarify what sounds like an errant click:
That was an accident— BRAXTON MILLER (@BraxtonMiller5) January 3, 2015
That's easy enough to do. But since the subject as a whole is likely to remain a hot topic, here's a holistic view of the "Braxton Miller-to-transfer" rumor mill as a whole:
Why Braxton Miller transferring makes sense
There's no guarantees if Miller comes back he'll beat out J.T. Barrett and/or Cardale Jones to be the Buckeyes' primary signal caller next season. Though winning two Big Ten player of the year awards is no small feat, a year away from the game after suffering multiple injuries to your throwing shoulder isn't particularly dismissible in its own right. If Miller, who's not expected to be back at full strength until the middle-to-late of summer camp, comes out of the gates sluggish, it's very conceivable his standing as 'the guy' may have come and gone.
Miller's skill set, regardless of the health of his throwing shoulder, would make him a great fit at Oregon, who'll need a quarterback with Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota expected to forego his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft where he'll likely be the first quarterback selected (if not first player overall). As a graduate transfer having already received his degree from Ohio State, Miller would be eligible to play his final season of eligibility immediately wherever he sees fit.
There's also the matter of the Buckeyes losing Tom Herman. Though Ed Warinner is the betting favorite to be promoted to the primary play caller for Urban Meyer and co., some kind of outside line of opinions will be brought in in the form of a new quarterbacks coach/potential co-offensive coordinator. If Miller's going to have to absorb some new ideas/plays, how different will it be for him to learn an entirely new playbook?
Plus, Miller's been tweeting/Instagramming stuff like this. It could just be typical college kid angst, or maybe it's indicative of the difficulty of his situation and his forthcoming decision:
Why Braxton Miller transferring doesn't make sense
While there's no guarantee Braxton Miller wins back his previous starting job, there's too much smoke in Ohio State (and even Miller circles), that as long as he'd be healthy, he'd be the presumptive favorite to do just that. A lot can change if that throwing shoulder is still bothering him or a litany of other injuries he's battled through during his time in Columbus rear their ugly head again, but assuming the best, the most logical scenario for all parties involved is Miller returning for one more tour of duty as the Buckeyes' quarterback.
And then there's the matter of his health. If Miller isn't the player he was before or heck, in some kind of nightmare scenario is unable to play quarterback at all, he's going to have to learn another new position altogether.
Whether he's a running back or wide receiver (which many project him at at the next level anyways), what better place to learn than in Urban Meyer's offense?
Miller also skipped being honored on senior day this past Michigan game at Ohio State. Why would he duck walking and being recognized just to head out the door and go somewhere else? Going pro might make some sense if he wants to get a jump on becoming a free agent -- it's unlikely at this juncture particularly given his health situation he'd be a particularly high round raft choice -- but him returning still remains the most likely scenario.
Likelihood overall of Miller transferring
We're scoring this at a 3.5/10.
We would've had it as a 0 or 1/10 prior to all the rumbles of late, and we've gone on the record before as saying we think he's coming back, but until more smoke emerges on the Ohio State (or Miller) side of the equation, our best bet is he finishes his college career in scarlet and gray, regardless of what he's accidentally favoring or heck even if he thinks the Ducks are likely to prevail against the Buckeyes.
UPDATE, 3:23 p.m.: The Columbus Dispatch's venerable Bill Rabinowitz weighed in on the subject at hand:
With rumors, as always, swirling about Braxton Miller, a source close to his family assures me his status regarding his future is unchanged.— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) January 3, 2015