Tim Beck has been coaching football since 1988. He’s seen plenty of quarterback competitions in his day. But when the question came in Monday evening, Ohio State’s new quarterbacks coach didn’t even hesitate before he provided an answer.
“This will be it,” Beck said in response to being asked about the most interesting quarterback battle he’s ever been a part of. “There’s no question.”
But Beck is in a unique position with this particular battle. Because it’s his first year with the Buckeyes — Beck took over for Tom Herman, who departed to become the head coach at Houston following the 2014 season — he doesn’t really know the two guys competing. After all, Beck has only had spring practice and one week of fall camp to work with both Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett.
Beck will obviously be involved in the decision, as will offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, but ultimately the choice of who will trot out on to the field at Lane Stadium on Sept. 7 will be made by head coach Urban Meyer.
“[Meyer] has been here, he knows the guys,” Beck said. “Obviously, it’s Coach’s program and coach Warinner will be involved and again I think as the process goes through, everyone will have some input to some degree because everyone’s going to see practice.”
Meyer has said Jones and Barrett came into fall camp completely even in the race. A winner will be determined by a bevy of things: performance in practice, leadership, film study. The list seemingly goes on.
“They’re going to see it unfold, they’re going to get a feel of all the intangibles, they’re going to get a statistical analysis and data and all the touchy things that we’re going to sit down and evaluate these guys,” Beck said. “I think everyone will have some input to some degree, but obviously Coach will make the final decision. He’s great with that.”
Beck being the new guy could also work in the Buckeyes’ favor, though. He has no ties to either quarterback like Meyer and Warinner. He brings a fresh set of eyes to the group of people who will ultimately decide whether Jones or Barrett is Ohio State’s signal caller.
“I think there’s obviously no predisposition with me,” Beck said. “I’m not coming in with any previous knowledge of either one of the guys and how they handle a room and how they learn and how they transition it on to the field. Yeah, maybe it’s a little bit of fresh air.”
It’s going to be a long, drawn out process to determine who wins the competition between Barrett and Jones. Beck’s role will be critical, but he’s still in a unique situation for the fact that the final decision will not belong to him.
That weight falls on the shoulders of Meyer.
“I’m trying to think if we’ve ever had to do that where it’s 50/50, I don’t think we ever have,” Meyer said. “I think it’s going to be 50/50 so I think it’s going to be a work in progress. Our object is, first dozen practices, 50/50 right down the middle.”
A work in progress for all involved.