The win yesterday by the Buckeyes against Wisconsin was not amazing. It was not even too surprising that freshman QB Miller brought the team back from a 29-26 deficit against a top 25 team. It was an indication that the young QB had developed into a playmaker. Miller winked at his coach indicating that despite the deficit and the limited time on the clock, he was confident he could bring the team back. It is not bragging if you can do it. But that brings us to a very perplexing question.
What would have happened if Miller had been named the QB to start the season? Miller has blossomed in his stint as the starter. He has developed much more quickly than anyone could have guessed. Most likely Miller would have developed in time to have won against Miami. But newbie HC Fickell chose to give the practice snaps to his choice the 5th year senior instead. The problem is that young man is an outstanding guy but is not capable of playing QB at the major college level. No one can guess why Coach made that decision. But there are a couple things we know for a fact did not impact his decision.
1. Was it in the long term interest of the program to start a senior? No. In fact, the long term interests of the program would have been served much better if the young man with 4 years of eligibility had been allowed to get both the practice snaps of a starter and the experience of playing in the Shoe against some lesser teams PRIOR to taking on a major school on their field.
2. Was there a significant difference in experience between the freshman and the senior? No. The senior had very little game experience. The senior had thrown a grand total of 47 passes in his 3 years on the roster. Miller was part of the team in the Spring so that he could participate in spring practices. Except for the practice snaps allocated by the coach, neither player had a major edge in experience.
3. Was there an indication that the senior would be more successful than the freshman? No. As a matter of fact any pee-wee coach should have been able to tell in the first practice that Miller had much more upside and very little downside in both the short and long term.
4. Would the “locker room” have reacted negatively to a freshman being picked over a senior? No. My experience with several levels of football indicates to me that the guys that give their sweat to the team want the best chance to win. When a coach chooses to start a guy that hurts their chances to win, that coach is in danger of losing the locker room. Once that happens, it is impossible to get it back. Players at this level of college know by the end of the first practice in pads who can play and who can coach. There is no fooling the locker room. The OSU players have gotten behind Miller very quickly because he gives them everything he has and gives them the best chance to win.
The result was not only a miserable start to the season that included 3 losses and an offense so inept it scored a total of 13 points in two of those defeats.
So why did the coach decide to go with the senior? I don’t know and will not speculate. Let me leave it at this. Fickell is the interim coach. Anyone would love to have this job because it is one of the best in the country. I hope he made his decision based on his true feeling about what was in the best interest of the team and the program.
That’s what I think. What do you think?
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. He edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.
- Luke Fickell Faces Significant Challenges (brutusreport.com)
- Ohio State coach Fickell has failed his team. (fryingpansports.com)