Theory versus testimony.
This is one of Urban Meyer’s core recruiting pitches. Other schools will tell recruits what they can do for them, while Ohio State shows them what they have done for so many others.
It’s theory versus testimony. Meyer can show recruits results (testimony) instead of possibilities (theory). And seeing those results — such as the impact of Real Life Wednesdays or the NFL Draft or postseason success — makes it very difficult for players to ignore.
The entire Ohio State football program operates on theory versus testimony. Theories are nice, and they will get applied here and there, but if results don’t materialize, then it’s on to something new. They work until they find theories that produce testimony.
When it comes to the ongoing quarterback competition between Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins, I believe theory and testimony will come into play here as well.
According to Meyer, neither QB separated himself from the other throughout spring camp. Heck, he even said he couldn’t tell you who the No. 3 quarterback was. Redshirt freshman Tate Martell is going to play this season, but if the Buckeyes are going to win a national title, it’s going to be with Joe Burrow or Dwayne Haskins.
I have no doubts that Martell could lead the Buckeyes to at least 10 wins this season, but the problem hasn’t been the tenth win. It’s been the 13th or 14th or 15th.
Ohio State needs the quarterback that puts them over the top and allows them to reach their full potential.
And that’s when we come back to theory versus testimony.
In Saturday’s spring game, we saw what Joe Burrow could do. He was the most consistent passer on the day, completing 15-of-22 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Haskins, meanwhile, completed 9-of-19 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Burrow was essentially twice as productive as Haskins and is also a better runner.
But this was just one practice out of 15, and just one day of information out of the three months of data they have been collecting.
Three weeks ago, even Joe Burrow knew not to put too much stock in the spring game.
“The spring game really isn’t too important,” he said. “It’s really your body of work throughout spring ball and your consistency throughout it.”
Meyer said after the game that he would meet with offensive coordinators Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day about the quarterback situation, and then do so again this week.
They saw plenty of good and great things this spring, but there apparently wasn’t the kind of separation that they were hoping to see.
You know how the old boxing adage has it that the challenger has to convincingly beat the champ to win the title? That’s probably applicable to the Ohio State quarterback competition as well.
Joe Burrow was given the opportunity to win the job, which was what he wanted to hear from the coaches during the offseason. What he may not have known, however, was that not only would he have to outplay Dwayne Haskins, but he would also have to make the theory of Burrow as the starting quarterback more convincing than the testimony that Haskins provided back in November in Ann Arbor.
Remember the 2015 quarterback battle between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett? Jones’ testimony in the 2014 College Football Playoffs was resounding, and it was enough to keep him entrenched until further testimony came along.
Right now, Haskins is the only Ohio State quarterback with testimony, and it is triumphantly dangling around the necks of the Buckeyes in the form of yet another pair of Gold Pants.
That is powerful proof of what Haskins can do for the Buckeyes.
I believe that both Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins are future NFL quarterbacks. Heck, I think Burrow could be one-and-done if he wins the job this season. So could Haskins, for that matter.
I also believe that either quarterback can do what is necessary to beat the nation’s top defenses.
Of course, it’s just theory for Burrow, but it is testimony for Haskins. And I think that is what will make it difficult for Urban Meyer to side with Burrow.
If there are no wrong answers here, the best option for a head coach would seem to be going with the one who has proven it, even if the proof was just one half of football.
But that’s just my theory.
We’ll have to wait a little bit longer for the testimony.