Something funny happened at Big Ten Media Days. It’s subtle, and if you weren’t paying attention, you probably missed it.
During an interview, Miller was asked the following question:
“You’re starting the season off as one of the hunted much like you did last year in the B1G do you feel maybe different about the way last year ended with two losses instead of coming after an undefeated season?”
Not a funny question in any sense of the word. Standard actually. But Braxton chuckled. In fact he let out a pretty serious laugh, covering his grin immediately, almost involuntarily. Then he went on to give a canned answer.
The laugh was weird, no doubt. So strange in fact that the reporter followed up:
“You laughed at that but coach says that hasn’t even been on your mind at all. Is that something you guys discuss or has that been something that’s completely off the table since the last game of the season?”
That was it for Miller. It pushed him over the edge. He let out a huge laugh and took a drink of water to compose himself…but it didn’t’ help. He couldn’t pull it together. As the smile got bigger he appeared to get lost in a thought. A quick daydream in front of the flashbulbs and recorders. The next reporter asked him something but he wasn’t listening. He had to have the question repeated.
Watch the whole thing here:
Odd behavior. Odd behavior indeed. But I think I have a plausible explanation: those two losses are ALL Miller has been thinking about this offseason. In fact, I think he’s been obsessing. That’s why it was so funny to him. He laughed as if to say, are you serious? He laughed as if to say of course I feel differently. He laughed as if to say…isn’t it obvious?
It has to feel different. As the quarterback of the Scarlet and Gray since his freshman season, Miller’s experienced a full range of emotions. From a terrible 6-7 year, to an undefeated season, to being one yard away from a National Championship berth, none of those offseasons felt the same. With that said, I can assure you this time hurt the most. Ripping off one of the longest win-streaks in Ohio State history, then unceremoniously crashing and burning in the last two games of the year has got to do something strange to your psyche.
Some could wallow in that hurt for months, feeling sorry for themselves, the team, the fans etc. Others could use that burn as fuel to ensure the pain of falling short is never felt again. The latter is what Miller’s been spending his offseason doing. From working on the heady side of the game with Braxton cam, to getting grilled with Gruden Camp style interviews, to working with George Whitfield and grinding it out on a Friday night with wide receiver, Jalin Marshall, Braxton has done everything in his power to make sure his next (and last) college offseason is nothing like Jan-July 2014.
That obsession is what could make him great this season, but it’s also what made him laugh at the question. “Have you thought about the last two losses Braxton”? That’s like asking a 4th grader if he’s thought about the girl he’s had a crush on lately. Of course both have, and you’d probably get the same giddy laughter out of each. That’s because the answer is so clear it’s comical.
The two losses drove Miller to forfeit Friday nights and grind on summer days. It’s what made him laugh at the obvious during B1G Media Days, but it’s also what made him miss the next question. He was somewhere else, thinking of this. That's the only kind of daydreaming Buckeye fans should expect from Braxton this season.