The beginning of training camp for the Ohio State Buckeyes football team didn’t bring an answer to the question of who is going to be the team’s starting quarterback, Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett.
With Urban Meyer unable to decide between the two, he simply had them flip a coin in the meeting room. Jones won it, so he got to lead the first-team offense in the first practice and first drill heading into the 2015 season. But it’s still a 50-50 race between the two. Barrett is a redshirt sophomore, while Jones is sophomore junior.
Both of them would have probably been in this position anyway to start the 2015 season, but they got to it in a weird way. Braxton Miller got himself injured before the 2014 season began. Had he been healthy for the entire campaign, he would have entered the NFL draft, but is now a wide receiver on the team.
Barrett stepped up for him during the regular season and despite the loss at home to Virginia Tech, pulled off an almost-Heisman like campaign for the Buckeyes, helping them reach the Big Ten Championship Game.
And then, he got injured too. So Jones took his place. And as someone reminded those who had their doubts heading into the game against Wisconsin, Jones wasn’t recruited to be a backup. He simply had incredible competition next to him. But he stepped up, along with the rest of them, to play in three games and win the three biggest ones of the season: Conference title game against Wisconsin, College Football Playoff against Alabama and the final, beating Oregon.
Meyer, coming off winning his third national title as a head coach and his first since joining the Buckeyes, is going to keep the answer sealed and secret until the opening game on the road against Virginia Tech. Meyer remembers the quarterback “controversy” in 2006 when he was the head coach at Florida between Tim Tebow and Chris Leak, but says it’s not the same thing.
We won’t announce anything until the first guy takes the field against Virginia Tech. I’m trying to think if we’ve ever had to do that where it’s 50-50 with the practice reps. I don’t think we ever have. Everybody comments on the Chris Leak-Tim Tebow dilemma we had. Those were two different skill sets, so they were almost different offenses. This one, I think it’s going to be 50-50, so it’s a little bit of a work in progress. Our objective is the first dozen practices, 50-50, right down the middle.
Maybe it’ll be a 50-50 kind of season, with Ohio State alternating between the two at the start of games, or maybe figuring out some other method that will work. It’s a great problem to have if you’re a head coach: Your pick of two excellent quarterbacks. But it’s the kind of situation that does need to be handled the right way, or the Buckeyes could end up losing because of it.