Tyranny of the Urgent

By Ramzy Nasrallah on April 18, 2018 at 1:05 pm
ohio state's last #QBGeddon

Congratulations everyone! You got your quarterback controversy back.

We're not talking about the "controversy" from the past two seasons when J.T. Barrett's iron grip on playing time was only loosened by 2nd half five-touchdown leads or rogue cameramen. There was no debate within the football program; it lived in Facebook comment threads, message boards and in places where beverages are consumed and air is breathed. Basically everywhere except the Woody.

That was fan-driven. Authentic quarterback controversies require locker room participation.

But we're also not talking about the very real controversy that followed the Buckeyes' CFP title either. For you youngsters who can't remember halcyon era of the 2015 offseason, that's when Ohio State's championship hero, regular season MVP who broke 17 school records (and his leg) as a freshman and Braxton Freaking Miller all occupied the QB room simultaneously. 

That was QBGeddon. What we have before us in 2018 is just a regular Geddon. A garden variety Geddon. Target has had this Geddon in stock and on its shelves since 1954. Dwayne Haskins vs. Joe Burrow vs. Tate Martell is that Geddon, whereas Cardale vs. JTB vs. Braxton was science fiction.

Dwayne Haskins brings 118 total yards of non-garbage time testimony to the DISCUSSION. And that's it.

Urban Meyer preaches Testimony vs. Theory in making the case for Ohio State, so it's appropriate to apply his principle to position battles and roster speculation. QBGeddon was overwhelmed by testimony, which is what made it so controversial. Fast-forward to now, and Dwayne Haskins brings 118 total yards of non-garbage time testimony to the discussion. And that's it.

He's the leader to replace Barrett's 12,697 yards because of his performance in Ann Arbor last November, when he was abruptly inserted into the middle of a 31-6 Ohio State run - and noticeably accelerated it. Still, it's just 118 yards within a few legendary minutes of game play. Some of us are old enough to remember the joyful BELL-I-SAR-I chants during the 1999 UCLA game, when the Buckeyes' quarterback of the future and surefire Heisman candidate had his coming out party under the lights at the Shoe. You need more testimony.

Nothing is settled, and that makes a lot of us anxious. This is the baggage that comes with having a bonafide quarterback controversy, no matter how conventional it may be.

When Oregon State wanders into the Horseshoe to collect a large L and a larger paycheck in September, no fewer than three current Buckeyes will be somewhere else. Right and left tackle should be settled. We'll know if Tuf Borland's injury healed quickly or is still nagging. The gaping hole at field safety will be filled.

And we'll know who won this season's Geddon, preferably not until the very moment the offense takes the field for the first time since the Cotton Bowl.

cardale spins down the sideline
The winner of #QBGeddon imitates the former QB who used to start in his place ripping Virginia Tech's heart out.

That was the only part of QBGeddon that was handled correctly. Barrett was chosen to be a team captain in August and then found himself wearing a headset for most of the season debut in September, surprising everyone including Virginia Tech.

Everything that happened after that on the offensive side of the ball was a tragic comedy of overthinking, brutal incompetence by the guy hired to replace Tom Herman and an acute case of Forgetting Braxton Freaking Miller Was On The Team. This Geddon has no chance of screwing up that badly, mostly because it isn't science fiction this time, but in part due to there being no turnover among the offensive brain trust.

We don't know enough about these quarterbacks. We know a ton about their coaches.

We know Ryan Day is a shrewd strategist and QB whisperer. We know Kevin Wilson is a brusque, cerebral innovator. We know Tony Alford is a competent and inspiring technician. We know Greg Studwara has settled into being the Buckeyes' OL guru. We know Zach Smith is a great recruiter. We know Brian Hartline now has a year of coaching experience which should finally produce some gains in receiver development.

There are no mysteries atop management, only among the department of the guild that works behind the guy snapping the ball. Three talented players with varying skill sets, all of whom are theoretically good enough to make this machine hum. The urgency to make a decision and end the controversy is rooted in a variation on an ancient football adage: If you have three quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. 

You can find a quarterback controversy that resembles the current one in literally every era of Ohio State football.

That must be true, because even if you have two quarterbacks you have no quarterbacks. Kent Graham and Kirk Herbstreit heard that expression when they were in Columbus, they of differing skill sets. Bobby Hoying and Bret Powers did too. Joe Germaine and Stanley Jackson. Justin Zwick and Troy Smith. Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor. It took the nine-dimension chess mind of Jim Bollman to make Joe Bauserman and Braxton a QB controversy. Yes, you can find this year's Geddon in literally every era of Ohio State football.

And every one of those guys were quarterbacks who won games, so that ancient adage that sounds clever has been dubious ever since it was first uttered. It rivals "i before e, except after c" in accuracy. Just ask your neighbors by the glacier to seize and weigh how weird that word science is, and they'll forfeit their support for it. Yeah, sometimes it's true.

If you have three quarterbacks and all of them are bad, then your team is in trouble. In 2015 Ohio State had three quarterbacks. One of them became a wide receiver on account of throwing arm durability. That left the Buckeyes with two quarterbacks; their unlikely postseason hero and the eventual three-time captain and record book overlord. Two quarterbacks. Two more than none.

Ohio State made its title run with its second two after losing the first. It lost one game the following season as it clumsily oscillated between two starters when either went cold or got arrested, which is not in the same galaxy as a strategic, situational QB platoon system. Alabama just won a CFP title *looks at watch* a few months ago almost explicitly because it chose to play two quarterbacks, which threw Georgia off-balance.

There's no rush to making a decision, and there should be no restriction to how that position is governed either, provided there's some actual strategy behind it. Hopefully the Buckeyes do have three quarterbacks and figure out the most efficacious way to use them. Based on Meyer's success with the position he loves so much that he's prone to micromanaging it, they should end up with no fewer than two options that can win the division.

But they cannot overthink it again. It has to have purpose this time. Or else they'll have a real controversy.

View 80 Comments