It’s not just the coaching rumor mill that’s churning the day before Turkey Day.
Because of J.T. Barrett‘s eyebrow-raising success this season, success that has put the redshirt freshman squarely in the Heisman mix, speculation has been growing that the window on Braxton Miller‘s days at Ohio State is closing. As the speculation goes, Miller will look to transfer from the Buckeyes — as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately — and move on to a situation that would afford him the opportunity to be the starter for his final collegiate season, which may or may not be the case at OSU.
Miller’s name, despite no hints from the player himself, mind you, has been connected to schools such as Auburn, Boston College and, most notably, Oregon. The Ducks would make sense on numerous levels, as both the offensive system utilized would seem to match Miller’s skillset and UO’s triggerman, Marcus Mariota, is expected to leave early for the NFL. The dot-connecting is reasonable, although that doesn’t mean it’s accurate.
According to The Oregonian, and citing a source with knowledge of the situation, “[t]here has been no contact between Oregon and either Miller or anyone acting on his behalf.” Leading up to the paper knocking down the talk, there was a rumor making the rounds that Miller had let it be known to the UO football program that he had an interest in the school and offensive coordinator Scott Frost followed up on that interest during a recruiting trek a couple of weeks ago. One of the problems with that, the paper notes, is that Frost wasn’t on the recruiting trail at that time.
A little over a week ago, NFL.com reported that “the quarterback’s plan for now is to remain at Ohio State and lead the Buckeyes in 2015.” Two months ago, Urban Meyer stated emphatically that Miller is his guy.
“Braxton is our quarterback,” Meyer said Sept. 30. “To be fair to Braxton, Big Ten Player of the Year. But it’s good to know we’ve got both of them.”
A month and a half later, Meyer’s tune had changed slightly as he heavily intimated Miller will have to earn the job back… if he even stays, which the head coach seemed to hint at as well.
“Competition brings out the best, and I’m really excited to have two really good quarterbacks next year, if that’s the plan,” the coach hedged.
If it’s made clear to Miller that he will have to earn back a job that he held for three years prior to re-injuring his shoulder during summer camp, it will be interesting to see if he accepts the challenge or moves on. And, if there is a true competition, is it something Miller can even win? Barrett, in 11 games, has already proven to be the better passer of the two — as the competition has already pointed out — and his running ability, while not at Miller’s level, is a significant weapon as well.
It’s hard to see how Meyer could send Barrett back to the bench after the season he’s had, one that could see a mid-December trip to New York City for the Heisman ceremony. It’s also hard to see how Meyer could keep Miller, the 2012 and 2013 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, off the field. One way or the other, whether it’s by transfer attrition or competition, something has got to give.