It’s official: Braxton Miller to miss 2014 season

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O-H!  UH-OH!!!

Unfortunately for Ohio State and the fans of its football team, their worst fears have been realized as OSU announced today that, as widely expected, starting quarterback Braxton Miller will miss the entire 2014 season.  Miller, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year reinjured his right(throwing) shoulder during practice Monday, with at least a couple of reports indicating that the he suffered a dislocated shoulder on a throw in which there was no contact.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Braxton and his family,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “This is an unfortunate injury to a young man who means so much to this program and to Buckeye nation.”

Other than he reinjured the same shoulder, the school declined to acknowledge the specific nature of the injury. They did allow that it was a non-contact play and the injury will require surgery to repair.

There is not timetable as of yet for surgery or a return to football activities.

Former Ohio State All-American wide receiver Joey Galloway, who was at yesterday’s practice, “said the injury to Braxton occurred on a rollout throwing a short pass toward the sideline.”

“He didn’t even get hit,” a source told Pete Thamel of SI.com. “He threw and it’s just a freakish thing. Everyone is scratching their head on how it happened.” Thamel added that Miller suffered a torn labrum, not a dislocation of his shoulder.

The injury didn’t go unnoticed all across college football and by former teammates.  And Las Vegas.

There was some good news, at least for now, amidst the gloom as Miller revealed that he will return to the Buckeyes for the 2015 season.  Miller is a fourth-year senior and has yet to use a redshirt.

He’ll use one this year and then, if he does return — he could change his mind and enter the 2015 NFL draft — he’ll be a fifth-year senior who would be poised to again lead his beloved Buckeyes.

“I love Ohio State and Buckeye nation, and my goal is to come back from this injury stronger and better than ever,” said Miller, who is 26-8 as a starter, including 24-2 the past two seasons, in his statement. “I am on course to graduate in December and I want to attend graduate school, and then return to lead the Buckeyes next season. In the meantime, I want to give all the support I can to my coaches and teammates as they chase a championship this season.”

That’s the future, though. The present is what currently matters most to OSU.

JT Barrett
JT Barrett

With the end of Miller’s season officially finalized, the Buckeyes will turn to, at least initially, J.T. Barrett.  The redshirt freshman had been in a battle throughout spring practice and on into summer camp with sophomore Cardale Jones to be Miller’s backup, only just recently moving into the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

Both Barrett and Jones received extensive work during the 15 spring sessions as Miller rehabbed the partially torn labrum he suffered in the Orange Bowl loss to Clemson, which was subsequently repaired in what at the time was described as minor surgery in late February.  That extra work for the two reserves continued into summer camp as Miller had been limited due to what was described as soreness in his shoulder.

While the pair have received additional reps because of Miller’s issues, it won’t help the game-day inexperience.  Barrett has never thrown a pass at the collegiate level, while Jones has thrown just two.

Despite the lack of on-field experience at this level, Barrett will enter the huddle with a fairly lofty recruiting pedigree and an assertive leadership style.

A four-star member of OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, Barrett was rated as the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  Easily the biggest knock on Barrett is his arm strength, or lack thereof.  His offensive coordinator/position coach, however, says the former Texas high schooler more than makes up for lack of a cannon on his shoulder in other facets of the game.

“Extremely cerebral. Very magnetic leader,” Tom Herman said earlier this month of a player who’s turned out to be his new starting quarterback. “I think the kids kind of gravitate towards him.

“We’ve got to work on strengthening his arm. He’s a distant third in terms of Braxton and Cardale in terms of just rearing back and trying to throw it through a wall. But he makes up for it in his anticipation and his accuracy and all that. You don’t have to have a howitzer to be successful in college football. I’m very pleased with his continuing growth.”

Cardale Jones
Cardale Jones

Jones, a three-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2011 recruiting class who delayed his enrollment at OSU for prep school, was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country that year.  He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then played sparingly in 2013; in 39 plays from scrimmage last season, Jones threw the ball twice (completing one for three yards) and ran 17 times (for 128 yards and a touchdown).

Meyer didn’t address just who will start the opener against Navy, although it was noted in the release that “[i]t was previously announced by Meyer on Saturday that Barrett, a 6-1, 225-pounder from Wichita Falls, Texas, had moved ahead of Jones for the No. 2 quarterback spot.”  Recently, Barrett has taken the lion’s share of reps with the first-team offense as he separated himself from Jones.

Taking all of that into account, there’s no reason to tap dance around it — losing Miller for the year is a significant blow to the Buckeyes and will certainly have an impact on the Big Ten Race.  It also may very well significantly impact the first year of the College Football Playoff as the Buckeyes, despite the Big Ten title-game loss to Michigan State, were the overwhelming favorites to claim the conference and emerge as the league’s playoff representative.  Miller is one of the most irreplaceable and indispensable players in college football; some would even argue that he’s the most irreplaceable and indispensable, given the unproven running backs in OSU’s stable and the coaching staff having to replace four of its five starting offensive linemen.

Even as it may seem like it in the here and now, the season’s not completely lost for the Buckeyes.  As, just to name a few, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel,  Notre Dame’s Everett Golson and Florida State’s Jameis Winston have shown over the past couple of years, redshirt freshmen are perfectly capable of successfully leading their teams in their first seasons as starters.  One of those four (Winston) won a BCS title, while another (Golson) helped lead his team to the BCS title game.  Winston won the Heisman en route to the championship, while Manziel took home his while helping the Aggies win 11 games their first season in the SEC.  Mariota was first-team All-Pac-12 in 2012 as the Ducks won 11 games, including the Fiesta Bowl.

More than likely, the Ducks and Aggies would’ve qualified for the playoffs were that system around in 2012, the former in particular.

Then there’s this: USC’s Matt Leinart (2004), LSU’s Matt Flynn (2007) Alabama’s Greg McElroy (2009), Auburn’s Cam Newton (2010), Alabama’s AJ McCarron (2011) and Winston (2013) all won BCS titles in their first year as starters over the last decade.

Who knows, Barrett could make it three seasons in a row for the second-year freshman/first-year starter phenomenon that’s done nothing but grow over the past handful of years.  And, for now, that’s about all Buckeye Nation can hang their title hopes on.

Well, that and a schedule that features just one team at the moment ranked in the Top 25 — No. 8 Michigan State in East Lansing.  That’s easily OSU’s toughest road game of the year, with other games away from The Horseshoe consisting of against Navy (9-4 in 2013) (in Baltimore), Maryland (7-6), Penn State (7-5) and Minnesota (8-5).  Their home slate features matchups against Virginia Tech (8-5), Kent State (4-8), Cincinnati (9-4), Rutgers (6-7), Illinois (4-8), Indiana (5-7) and Michigan (7-6).

According to FBSchedules.com, Ohio State’s 2014 schedule is tied for fifth-toughest, with Oregon, among the teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 10.  The .569 winning percentage of its opponents top that of defending BCS champion Florida State (.550), Oklahoma (.477) and Alabama (.473).

In other words, it’s not the cakewalk some have perceived to be.  It’s not exactly a football death march either, which means that, depending on how fast Barrett — or Jones — get acclimated, all the gloom and doom currently hanging over the football program could give way to a postseason full of possibilities.  Or it’ll be 2011 all over again in terms of the won/loss ledger.  One of the two.

 

Mark Dantonio gives cautious statement of support to MSU president Lou Anna Simon amid Larry Nassar scandal

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The Larry Nassar case has quickly become college sports’s biggest, ugliest scandal since the Jerry Sandusky fiasco at the early part of this decade. The longtime professor at MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine and sports physician for the Spartans (he also held the same job for USA Gymnastics) has been accused of a long, systematic career of sexually assaulting young women while on the job for Michigan State — and not only that, but that Michigan State higher-ups were aware of Nassar’s behavior and did nothing.

Nassar’s trial — he pleaded guilty to more than 100 counts of sexual abuse of girls and young women — is in the sentencing phase now, where victim after victim has come forward to recount their abuse at his hands. You’ve probably seen Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman‘s testimony by now.

Michigan State’s Board of Trustees announced Friday that Lou Anna Simon would remain on as school president despite the school’s reported knowledge of Nassar’s crimes and the school being named alongside Nassar in a civil lawsuit. The Nassar scandal has cost Michigan State $10 million and counting thus far.

“As part of the Board’s oversight authority, we will retain independent external assistance to support our responsibilities to the university community and the public at large,” the board said in a statement to the Detroit Free Press. “We continue to believe President Simon is the right leader for the university and she has our support.”

Though one Trustee has since called for president Lou Anna Simon‘s immediate resignation, she remains in place today. Which means Mark Dantonio has to talk about her.

As one of the two highest-profile employees — sitting alongside men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo — on the Michigan State payroll, Dantonio’s support or lack thereof of the school president matters.

And as of now, Dantonio supports Simon.

Speaking at the Michigan high school coach’s clinic in Lansing last week, Dantonio gave this cautious, begrudging statement. Via the Detroit Free Press:

“Well, obviously our hearts go out to the victims in this case. It’s a very, very difficult situation for them. It’s awful. I guess with that said, in 11 years of dealing with President Simon on so many different occasions and in so many different areas, I’ve always found her to be very reflective, very calm in the storm, very on-point. And I’ve always appreciated that about her. She’s much like a head coach. In my little world that I’m in – and I can’t control things at times – I would say she is in a very difficult and delicate situation. I really don’t think that I’m even qualified to talk on it, but I can only speak to my involvement with her and how she’s handled very difficult situations. I think she’s led from that perspective with Mark Dantonio and our football team.”

Though calling for your boss’s firing when the school’s board of trustees would be beyond the norms of the industry, one can imagine how much a call for Simon’s firing by the head coach of the football team would sway public opinion.

Late Colorado RB Rashaan Salaam’s Heisman sold for a record $400K

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A new record has been set, although it’s not one anyone is celebrating.

The Heisman Trophy of the late Colorado running back Rashaan Salaam has been sold at an auction for a record price of $399,608. That number beats out the previous record held by Bruce Smith, a 1941 winner out of Minnesota, whose stiffarm trophy sold for $395,240 in 2005. The winner of Saturday’s auction is not immediately known.

Salaam passed away in 2016 in a death that was ruled as a suicide. He was 42. His Heisman was put up for auction last month, with a target price of $300,000. CTE is believed to be a motivator in his suicide, and the record funds will be used to contribute to CTE research.

How Salaam’s trophy went up for auction in the first place is a point of considerable controversy. The official story is that Salaam sold his trophy in 2014 to a memorabilia collector — winners are officially prohibited from selling their trophies, though who’s going to stop them? — who sold it to Denver real estate investor Tyler Tysdal, who put it up for Saturday’s auction and says he has a signed letter of authenticity from the winner himself and an invoice. However, Salaam’s mother believes it was stolen.

“When we went to Boulder to bury Rashaan … I didn’t see it in his apartment,” Khalada said. “I thought it was in a restaurant or something. I thought it would pop up,” Khalada Salaam told CBS Sports. “It didn’t pop up.”

Salaam won the 1994 Heisman as a junior running back for Colorado. He rushed for 2,055 yards and 24 touchdowns while helping the Buffaloes finish 10-1 with a No. 4 final ranking. He beat out Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter, Alcorn State quarterback Steve McNair and Penn State quarterback Kerry Collins for the honor.

Salaam entered the NFL draft in 1995, where he was selected in the first round by the Chicago Bears.

Report: Ryan Day considering leaving Ohio State to join former Buckeye’s NFL staff

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Former Ohio State linebacker Mike Vrabel is now the head coach of the Tennessee Titans, and one of his first moves as head coach will be to weaken his alma mater.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Vrabel wants to hire Ohio State quarterbacks coach Ryan Day as his offensive coordinator.

Day spent just a year at Ohio State and has never worked with Vrabel, but it’s his connection to another pair of major college football figures that has pointed the new Titans head coach in Day’s direction. Day spent his formative college years playing and working for Chip Kelly at New Hampshire, then re-joined him in the NFL as the quarterbacks coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers.

The Titans, of course, are quarterbacked by former Kelly protege and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.

Mariota’s lack of progress is the reason Mike Mularkey was not retained in the first place, so Vrabel’s choice here is a significant one.

In his first season on staff, Day helped J.T. Barrett show significant improvement from his junior to senior seasons. After ranking 55th nationally in passing efficiency in 2016, Barrett leaped up to eighth this fall, connecting on 64.7 percent of his passes for 3,053 yards (8.2 per attempt) with 35 touchdowns against nine interceptions en route to winning the Big Ten and the Cotton Bowl.

Ohio State will have to replace Barrett heading into 2018, and now it seems like Urban Meyer may have to replace his quarterbacks coach on top of his quarterback.

You’re getting old part 9,374: Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne’s son commits to Boston College

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Today in ‘You’re getting old,’ part 9,374: Ron Dayne’s kid will soon play college football.

While it seems like just yesterday that the ‘Great Dayne’ was running wild at Wisconsin and winning the 1999 Heisman Trophy, the soon-to-be 40-year-old will be back in college football in a different light: as a dad. That’s because his son, Javian Dayne, just committed to Boston College as part of the class of 2018.

The elder Dayne amassed 7,125 yards on the ground over four seasons at Wisconsin, a mark that is more than any other player in college football history but good for second on the NCAA all-time list behind San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey due to the lack of counting bowl stats back in the day. The younger Dayne doesn’t have quite the same size and stats as his dad but wasn’t too shabby at Waunakee (Wis.) High in running for 4,269 yards and 56 touchdowns the past three years.

“I absolutely hated the process,” Javian told the Wisconsin State Journal of his recruitment. “I was one of those people who wanted to get it over with. I didn’t like the process at all. … We did a lot of traveling around.”

The six-foot, 200 pound recruit is listed as a two-star by 247Sports and was recruited heavily by the Eagles since November. He’ll have a tough time becoming the starter with A.J. Dillon coming off a 1,500 yard season as a freshman but could be in the mix with several others to see some carries early on with primary backup Jon Hilliman transferring to Rutgers.

Either way, the first time the cameras find Ron Dayne on the sidelines at a Boston College game watching his son will be yet another reminder that we’re all getting very, very old.