For Urban Meyer, Watching the Human Element of the Ohio State Quarterback Battle of Utmost Importance

By Eric Seger on July 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Urban Meyer knew all along he'd eventually have to address the situation everyone in the college football world's been discussing ever since Cardale Jones decided to return to Ohio State in January.

A three-headed quarterback battle is unprecedented for a defending college football national champion, but Meyer's been mostly mum on the imminent decision since raising the College Football Playoff trophy over his head in Dallas.

Now that Braxton Miller's officially declared his allegiance to the program and his home state — one that never really wavered to begin with — the clock is ticking for Meyer and his staff with fall camp rapidly approaching.

"You gotta watch, the human element is dangerous. If it's about them, it could be very bad," Meyer said Friday in Sandusky, Ohio, following a charity event called "Walking the Talk" supporting the Ginn Foundation at the Kalahari Resort.

Jones, Miller and J.T. Barrett all in their own unique way built Ohio State into a national champion under Meyer, and the head coach is keen to what is currently in front of each of them. If a single person makes the situation about them and not the team, then it's not worth the coach's or anyone's time.

"If it's about the team, I think our culture right now wouldn't support something about them," Meyer said. "Of the three individuals involved, it is the fact that there's one or two of those individuals that aren't going to play a lot and that's terrible. Because all three of those guys have done major things for us."

Each guy is a competitor. Each guy wants to help. Each guy wants to win.

Maybe that's the thing that shines above all.

"I think the coaches will put the team in the best position to win," Jones, a Ginn Academy graduate, said after the event Friday. "Every guy on our team — and I can vouch for this — every guy on our team has that team-first mentality."

The belief in that is part of the culture Meyer and his staff's instilled at Ohio State in three short years in Columbus, all while capturing 38 wins, a Big Ten Championship and National Championship along the way.

It's the culture that will be tested more than ever this fall, whenever the decision's made on who will trot out with the first team offense Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va., against Virginia Tech — the only team to beat the Buckeyes in 2014.

"They're not like freshmen or rookies, all three have made a major impact on this program. Major impact," Meyer said. "You go down in Ohio State history, those three names are going to be there."

Miller is a two-time Big Ten Player of the Year. Barrett shattered record books and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting last year before breaking his ankle against Michigan. Jones picked up where he left off and led Ohio State to a national title.

You know the story. And you know Meyer can't go wrong. It's a good problem for Ohio State to have, but whether or not it could be good for the three of them individually remains to be seen.

"It's all to be determined. I don't know that," Meyer said. "I just have enough confidence and character of the people involved including their families that it's going to hurt, but I don't think it'll be detrimental. I don't think so. If it does, that's my job to stop it."

It's a pretty important job, and not typically one you think the coach who led his team to the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship would have to deal with six months later.

But Meyer isn't worried. Not yet.

"It's harder if they weren't good players to be honest. Try to move the football with a bad quarterback, you got a bad deal," Meyer said. "That's real difficult. Fortunately I've not really had to do that. They're very talented guys."

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