"J.T. understands the dynamics of competition. He also understands that this actually is going to make their team better, the three of them competing, since their level of play is going to grow because of it."
-James Garfield, J.T. Barrett’s high school coach, via Tim May, The Columbus Dispatch
J.T. Barrett has been keeping a low profile this offseason. While Braxton Miller’s shoulder has been a hot topic of conversation throughout Columbus, and Cardale Jones has been throwing out opening pitches at Indians games, Barrett has declined interviews and stayed out of the spotlight during his summer workouts.
The unlikely sequence of events since last August led to all three quarterbacks being considered Heisman candidate quarterbacks by the end of the year, and the competition has only heated up as all three are vying once again for the starting job. Barrett took the helm when Miller sustained a season-ending shoulder injury during the pre-season. Barrett proceeded to break the Big Ten record of touchdowns responsible for at 45, as well as setting and tying 17 other school records. Unfortunately, his season ended early in the fourth3 quarter of last year’s Michigan game with a broken ankle, leading to the former third-stringer Cardale Jones taking over and ultimately leading Ohio State to a national championship in the first-ever College Football Playoff.
Even so, in a recent poll by the Big Ten Network on who should win the starting job, Barrett won nine of 14 votes by sportswriters from around the Big Ten.
Barrett was able to complete some drills in the spring following his surgery at the end of last season, but Jones was the only quarterback of the three healthy enough to fully participate then. Now, however, Barrett is cleared for the full gamut of summer conditioning.
"One of the things I really give the young man credit for is his preparation, his study of the game," said Barrett’s dad, Joe Barrett. "He realized he had to let a lot of things go (outside of his schoolwork and football) in order to compete at that level. It really worked out."
Of course, Barrett’s father has an entirely different view on who the starter should be come next season: "Of course I would love to see my kid start, but for me it always goes back to who was first. If Braxton hadn’t gotten hurt, I would still be waiting for my baby to get the chance to play. I was thankful J.T. got that chance…and we were all blessed that he was ready to compete, but like I have told everybody, I don’t want to see my kid take a position because of the misfortune of someone else…In other words, Braxton should get that position back, then everybody else should go try and take it from him."
"The television side of things is such a lifeline for us. I’m not singing the blues, but the reality is that we balance our budget on those numbers. It is vital both now and for our future."
-Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague, via Chip Scoggins, Star Tribune
With increasing revenues from college athletics, spending is soaring, especially on salaries for administrators and coaches.Last year, each Big Ten school got $7 million from revenue deals with the Big Ten Network, but that was just one component of the $30.9 million the Big Ten gave to each of its 14 member schools. A new TV contract that will take effect in two years is expected to boost that figure to $44.5 million per school. Similarly, the SEC recently announced that each of its schools would receive $31.3 million, with much of those funds coming from TV agreements with the SEC network, as well as benefits from bowl games and the College Football Playoff.
However, despite lucrative TV contracts, many schools face increasing costs and budgets that are growing exponentially. Coaches are getting paid more, and schools need to increase salaries in order to keep them around. Schools also need to upgrade facilities in order to attract and retain recruits. Spending by individual schools has increased significantly in order to keep up. For instance, in 2006, Minnesota’s athletic budget was $54 million. It has nearly doubled to $105 million this year.
NCAA athletes, who see the revenue coming into their schools, are not getting any of it. Some, like Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian, voted to unionize, while some schools fought to be able to provide benefits to their athletes.
However, many schools are ignoring areas where they could be cutting costs, especially in administrative areas like salaries, and holding onto their lifeline TV agreements. Other schools, like Ohio State, recognized this trend and are taking steps to reverse it, such as by decreasing executive compensation.
"What’s the difference? I think it’s the ability to make the game look so easy, so effortless. And though Turner did that, there’s just something about Russell that just screams NBA star. It’s an ease with the basketball, the burst, the smoothness, the quick release, the confidence and just the effortless look he has when he’s filling it up. It’s something natural that can’t be taught, and Russell had it from the second he stepped into the Ohio State gym."
-Ari Wasserman, Northeast Ohio Media Group
Even when he has a bad game, he still makes it look good. D’Angelo Russell has shown in his one year at Ohio State that he has the "NBA spark" which will allow him to grow into a true star in Los Angeles. Ari Wasserman has been covering Ohio State basketball for six years and has seen a whole range of players come through the program, from Evan Turner to Aaron Craft. While many have made it to become solid players in the NBA, like Memphis’s Mike Conley, others have fallen off. None of them, however, are stars in the NBA.
"Forget the 19.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists he averaged before becoming a First-Team All-American as a freshman" said Wasserman. It’s about the look, the feel you get when watching this dynamic guard play the game."
Russell’s ease with the basketball, and his confidence in his game, could be the difference maker in the NBA. In every game, even in those when the rest of his team struggled, Russell was able to take over, using his agility and outstanding passing to compete against a superior opponent. His awareness of the game allows him to see the floor better than most.
Russell was drafted No. 2 overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in last week’s NBA Draft, he highest pick since Evan Turner went in the same spot in 2010 to the Philadelphia 76rs. The Lakers finished last season with a 21-61 record.
"Despite its unsettled quarterback picture, Ohio State—the top team in power rankings of Golden Nugget oddsmaker Aaron Kessler—is an early double-digit favorite in four listed games."
-Mitch Sherman, ESPN
The Big Ten and Ohio State are early favorites in nonconference games, according to Las Vegas. Early lines have the conference as favorites in seven of 11 of the games posted by the Golden Nugget.
Ohio State is listed as a 16-point favorite over Virginia Tech in week one. In conference play, the Buckeyes are listed as 19-point favorites over Penn State and 14-point favorites over Michigan State, with both games at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State opened as 16-point favorites against Michigan, but the line quickly dropped to 13.
Michigan is favored in three of four games listed, including Jim Harbaugh’s home opener, where the Wolverines are a 33-point favorite over UNLV. Utah, however, is favored by four in their week one matchup against Michigan.
For the past nine years, the Golden Nugget has been the first casino to start placing point spreads on individual college football games. The casino released lines for more than 150 games on Friday.
Despite being left out of last year’s College Football Playoff, TCU and Baylor are the No. 2 and No. 3 teams, respectively, in the Golden Nugget’s power rankings. TCU is favored by 18 against Minnesota when they face off Sept. 3. Other notable lines include Alabama’s Oct. 3 matchup against Georgia, which is currently set at even odds, the first time Alabama has not been favored in a game in 68 consecutive games. Alabama is, however, favored by 10 against Wisconsin in their season opener. In week two, Michigan State is listed as a one point favorite over Oregon in a primetime game at Michigan State.
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