Could Ohio State Keep All 3 Star Quarterbacks?

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Since the college football off-season began, there’s one storyline that just…won’t…die.

No, I’m not talking about satellite camps, spring game attendance, or even this picture of Jim Harbaugh, which I still can’t figure out two months later. Nope, I’m not talking about any of that.

Instead, I am of course talking about the race to figure out who will be Ohio State’s starting quarterback in the fall of 2015. We’re still five full months away from Week 1 and yet this damn thing is still being covered with the zeal of a Presidential race. Everyone has to have an answer. Everyone needs it now. And everybody — well at least everybody with a message board screen name or Twitter handle — is making the case for their preferred candidate.  

“He had wins over Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon…. the other guy lost to Virginia Tech and wants to cut job spending in half. Vote Cardale Jones for Ohio State’s starting quarterback in 2015!”

“He’s beaten Michigan twice, runs a 4.3 40 and is ready to sprint right past those fat cats in Washington! On August 30th, vote Yes for Braxton Miller!”


Ok, you get the point.

And while things might not be quite this bad yet, they’re getting close.

Yet regardless of where you stand on the Ohio State quarterback derby, it seems like everyone agrees that something has to happen. Cardale Jones has to enter the draft (he didn’t). Braxton Miller has to transfer (he hasn’t yet). Somebody has to switch positions (nope, nothing to date). Has to… has to… has to…

The juicy internet gossip may have finally hit its low point last week, when Miller — only the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year — was spotted in Alabama. The sighting sent the entire World Wide Web into a frenzy: Miller had to be transferring to Alabama! He had to be the one missing piece the Crimson Tide needed. He…

He was… going to visit his doctor James Andrews.

Bummer, guess we have to cancel that trophy presentation in Tuscaloosa, huh?  

But while the world caught up on Braxton-watch last week, I was surprised no one else picked up on it. Or maybe they did pick up on it, but since it didn’t fit their narrative of what they think has to happen in Columbus, they didn’t report on it.  

What was it?

Well, it was a post by J.T. Barrett on Instagram, with a picture of him standing side-by-side with Miller and a caption that read:

“We working to come back like we never left, @BraxtonMiller92.” 

Hmm, interesting.

It also got me thinking about something: Over the last eight months — since Miller initially got hurt, really — the media has been itching for some answer, any answer to the Ohio State quarterback derby. Would Cardale go pro? Would Miller transfer? Who’s changing positions?

But while everyone needs a resolution, what if there isn’t one? What if it just so happens that all three guys like each other, all three guys like Ohio State, and they’re willing to try and figure out how to make it work together?

Why hasn’t anyone even considered that as a possibility?   

I think it’s at least possible, in large part because of who these three specific guys are. If it were another school, with other kids and another coach (more on Urban Meyer coming later) I’d have my doubts.

But it isn’t. It’s Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller, and well, have you been paying attention? Call me crazy, but doesn’t it seem like these guys actually like each other?

I think so. I also think we have a year’s worth of empirical evidence to back it up.

There was Barrett’s Instagram post yes, but there was also Barrett standing by Cardale’s side in Ohio State’s spring game a few weeks ago, getting in his ear and giving him pointers. For those scoring at home, Barrett was doing the same thing last fall during the Big Ten championship game and during the college football playoff as well.

And while we’re on the subject of how much these guys like each other, go ahead, do yourself a favor and watch this interview that Cardale and Barrett did together a few weeks ago. Do these two look like guys who can’t stand each other, don’t want to be around each other, or are rooting against one and other? Or do they look like two guys who might actually be friends, and who enjoy busting each other’s balls like you do with your buddies?  

Honestly, I think that’s the biggest thing that people are overlooking here: These three are in fact kids, and they might actually be friends. They’re not professionals, and their entire livelihood doesn’t rest on their ability to win the Ohio State starting quarterback job. No, they’re college kids, who hang out together, play video games together, party together…pretty much do everything together. Yes, they’re all competitive. Yes, they all want to win the job. But why does everyone assume it has to be a blood-thirsty, win-at-all-costs battle to win the job? Again, they all want to be the starter. But if anything, doesn’t it feel like a literal “friendly competition?”

Of course just because things are friendly doesn’t mean that all three guys are definitely staying; I’m guessing no one knows that for sure, not even Urban Meyer. Like most people, if I had to take a guess, and had to say which one likely won’t be at Ohio State to start next season, it’d be Braxton Miller. By now you all know his story, so there’s no need to get too deep into it here. But with one season of college football left, and the worst injury history of all the QB’s, Miller has the most to lose by staying in Columbus. What if he doesn’t win the job? What if he doesn’t see the field at all?  

At the same time, did you watch that interview with Barrett and Cardale? Did you hear what Barrett said when he was asked about Miller (who declined all interviews this spring)? He said:

“He’s done so much for this university and our team that I think it would be just crazy to see him somewhere else.”

Hmm, so you’re telling me that despite all the “experts” on the internet saying that Miller is gone, one of the guys who knows him best would be surprised if Miller left? By the way, did you see Miller at Ohio State’s spring game? Does a guy who’s competing in a “fastest student on campus competition” really strike you as someone who’s itching to leave Ohio State? Did the guy who hugged Ezekiel Elliott and Jalin Marshall after the race really seem all that unhappy?

Even if Miller did want to transfer (which again, there’s been no indication that he does), if you really think about it, how many schools actually offer him a better opportunity than Ohio State? What other schools give him a bigger stage, with better talent around him, as good of a chance to win, and can also guarantee him a starting spot (which is the only reason to transfer in the first place)? Maybe Florida State, and then?

Point being that yes, Miller transferring makes sense. There are also plenty of good reasons for him to stay.

And if all three did say, well, isn’t it at least conceivable that Meyer could figure out a way to use all of them at the same time? I’m not saying it’s likely. But is it impossible?

For starters, all three have completely unique skill-sets and bring something completely different to the table. Miller is clearly the fastest, Barrett the most accurate and poised, and Cardale obviously is the biggest and most powerful, with the best arm. As things stand, Ohio State has won a lot of games when teams only had to prepare for one of them; can you imagine opponents having to prepare for all three in one week? Crap, Alabama had a month to get ready for just Cardale, and they still couldn’t get a win.

And by the way, if there’s one coach who could figure out a way to make it work with all three, isn’t it Urban Meyer?

First of all, let’s never forget that this isn’t Meyer’s first “How do I juggle more than one QB” rodeo. He obviously did it at Florida when he had Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, and while he had his detractors at the time, I think it’s safe to say that it all ended pretty well. You know, since they won the National Championship and all in the 2006 season.

At the same time, it isn’t just that Meyer won with three quarterbacks, but how he did it.

You do remember how he did it, right? You do remember how everyone said that his offense would never work in the SEC, and that even if it did work, it definitely wouldn’t work with Chris Leak running it. And you do remember how Meyer went ahead and told reporters (just like he did last year) that he didn’t have one specific offense, but that instead, he built his offense around the skills of his particular players, right?

And you all remember how he said all the same things last year, correct?  

And Meyer might be the most important part of it all.

Yes, there are three quarterbacks, but they’re three quarterbacks who happen to be playing for the perfect coach to handle this situation. If anyone understands how to deal with this exact situation, it has to be Urban Meyer, right? He’s done it before with Tebow and Leak. He did it last year by adjusting things last year when Braxton Miller got hurt, and did the same for Cardale Jones when Barrett went down.

So in theory, who’s to say he can’t adjust things again if all three of these guys are healthy?

In the end, I don’t know if all three guys will stay, neither do you, neither does Meyer, neither does anyone really.

But could it happen?

Frankly, I think it’s more likely than anyone thinks.  

Aaron Torres is a contributor to Outkick the Coverage and Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, on Facebook or e-mail at

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.