“J.T. Barrett sat inside the locker room at Michigan Stadium on the final Saturday of November and let his fellow Ohio State quarterbacks know it wasn’t going to happen again. Barrett decided he wasn’t going to let another leg injury keep him out of another championship run in his final season of college football.”
There are two distinctly defined camps of Buckeye fandom when it comes to the play and legacy of J.T. Barrett. One camp believes that he is the best quarterback in Ohio State and Big Ten history (statistically at least), and he deserves to be revered as such. The other is that, despite his successes, he has underperformed and been a crutch for an oddly conservative group of play-callers unable to maximize the potential of the weapons around him.
These two divergent points of view came to a head in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday. Barrett was clearly hampered by his lingering knee injury and subsequent surgery, but despite not being the mobile threat that he normally was, he was healthy enough to give it a go, and the coaches thought that Barrett with a bum knee was better than the alternative.
Nothing can be taken away from the determination, resilience, and fortitude of J.T. Barrett, but because of the respect that head coach Urban Meyer and the rest of his staff has for the QB, it could be argued that they made the wrong decision in allowing him to play in the game, despite the victory.
From an offensive standpoint, the Buckeyes benefited from an outstanding performance by the offensive line, keeping Barrett as clean as possible; he was only hit twice. However, as our own Christopher Jason pointed out in his offensive film review, Barrett missed a number of throws that looked primed to result in either big gains or scores. Instead, the Buckeyes held on for a 27-21 and were left out of the College Football Playoff.
Many fans, especially the ones in the second camp mentioned above, have been left wondering what could have been if Meyer had stuck with Dwayne Haskins, who led a come-from-behind victory against Michigan and was not coming off of knee surgery six days before the B1G Championship game.
Obviously there is no way to know. The Buckeyes had a handful of explosive plays, but not much else worked on Saturday. Against the Wolverines, Haskins showed an ability to scramble when need be, but his powerful arm seemed to bring to life an otherwise listless receiving corps. So, it does make one wonder if the Buckeyes would/could have done enough against Wisconsin with Haskins under center to get into the CFP.
“For now, Burrow plans on being with the Buckeyes through the spring... If he doesn't win it, he would be free to transfer and play immediately anywhere he chooses upon graduating in May.”
In this year’s spring game, Joe Burrow was clearly the better quarterback amongst the non-Barrett backups. However, his broken hand in fall camp put him in a precarious position heading into his redshirt-junior season next fall. With Haskins capturing the imagination of the fan base, and having far more practical experience in 2017, it would be tough to imagine Burrow surpassing the younger Haskins for the starting position in 2018.
Since Burrow will likely graduate in May, after the spring camp and game, I would imagine that Meyer will have an honest conversation with him, and likely all of the QBs, about their status. As Landis notes in the article, Meyer knew that attrition was likely coming, especially with Tate Martell in the wings, and Emory Jones supposedly committed to the Buckeyes.
When you recruit at least one highly valued QB in each class, eventually you will have a log-jam, and talented players will always want to play. So, if Burrow does end up leaving OSU before the 2018 season starts, it won’t be a sign that he wasn’t committed to being a Buckeye, or that he was upset with how he was treated in Columbus, but more likely just the price of playing at school at the very top of the college football food chain.
“I've decided that this Buckeye basketball season is going to go like the football season in the sense that we're not going to be sure which team is going to show up on a given night. That will create frustration.”
I don’t disagree with Landis at all on this main point, however, I do think that there will be one significant difference between the football and men’s basketball teams this year. As I discussed before the season with 97.1 The Fan’s Lori Schmidt, this team is a lot more fun than the previous, recent incarnations, and that holds true for the gridiron as well.
Dating back to the beginning of the Jim Tressel era in Columbus, the football team has been wildly successful, but also rarely enjoyable to watch. Yes, as Buckeye fans we might have loved and reveled in the success, but watching the games themselves was often an exercise in nerve and frustration control.
While that has changed a little bit since Meyer has taken over, the games are still far more aggravating than they are exciting.
The same could be said for the last few teams that Thad Matta trotted out onto the basketball floor. Whether it was a lack of leadership or chemistry in the locker room, those teams would win, but not in a way that many fans would care to watch.
This season, while the talent might not be as strong as it has been in previous years on the hardwood, they have a collection of guys that seemingly play hard and in a way that is actually fun to watch. With Keita Bates-Diop and Jea’Sean Tate providing the leadership that was lacking in previous seasons, Kaleb Wesson giving us young Jared Sullinger still working off the baby fat, and other freshmen like Musa Jallow and Kyle Young showing flashes of potential, this OSU basketball team is actually fun to watch.
Yes, they can be frustrating too (see the blown double-digit leads to Butler and Clemson), but they’ve opened up the Big Ten season with wins against (admittedly down) Wisconsin and Michigan, and even if they don’t make the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row, I feel good in saying that this Buckeye team will at least give an effort that fans can enjoy and be proud of.
STICK TO SPORTS
- In what surely won’t be controversial, Polygon ranks the 500 best video games ever.
- Sticking with lists, relive 2017 with the best YouTube videos of the year.
- How J Dilla created some of the most important beats in hip-hop.
- So, why are androids (a.k.a. our future overlords) always dressed conservatively?
- A service dog chased a cast member of the Broadway musical “Cats” last night.