Football

Morning Constitutional: What Will Tate Martell’s Departure Mean?

Ohio State football quarterback Tate Martell scramble

Today’s Topic: What Will Tate Martell’s Departure Mean?


With Tate Martell’s appearance in the NCAA’s transfer portal last week, what was expected to be a relatively calm winter suddenly foamed white with choppy seas.

While Martell isn’t necessarily gone, based on social media sleuthing, it sure looks like he is on his way out. He was removed Ohio State from his Twitter profile and placed a question mark as his current location. On Sunday, he shared a photo of a road sign pointing the way to Morgantown, West Virginia as he apparently visited the Mountaineers as he continues to weigh his options.

At this point, it is safe to assume that he won’t be back, which means now it is time to figure out what Ryan Day’s next move will be.

The good news is that a fix doesn’t have to happen right now.

The bad news is that a “fix” isn’t what is being looked for, but rather depth is what is needed.

Why is that bad news? Because the Buckeyes aren’t likely to be able to lure a transfer quarterback of starter quality. Alabama’s Jalen Hurts isn’t going to transfer to Ohio State to then compete with Matthew Baldwin and Justin Fields. Neither is Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush or really any quarterback you have heard of who is currently a “free agent.”

How many of you knew the name Chris Chugunov this time a year ago?

When Joe Burrow transferred, the Buckeyes were put in a bad spot. Ryan Day wants four scholarship quarterbacks, and so they looked to the transfer market. They weren’t looking for a starter, however. They were looking for somebody who was happy to be a backup. That’s not always easy to find, but the Buckeyes got it done last year when Chugunov left West Virginia and came to Columbus during camp last fall.

Now it appears they will have to do it again — though Day is probably hoping it happens sooner this time around.

Having 50% of the scholarship quarterbacks on the roster being guys that Day doesn’t really want to ever start a game is not ideal. If somebody gets hurt, one of those two guys will be one bad snap away from being called upon to run the Buckeye offense.

Building quarterback depth is difficult, but right now it seems impossible. Walk-on quarterback Kory Curtis is also in the transfer portal and looking for a new home where playing time is a possibility.

Chugunov will wear out his eligibility following the 2019 season, as will likely whoever they get to come in this year.

That still puts them at just three scholarship quarterbacks in 2020, with Fields, Baldwin, and 2020 signee Jack Miller.

There does not appear to be any viable 2019 quarterback targets who are still unsigned, and Day doesn’t want to reach for a player only to be saddled with him for four years.

There is a possibility that they could look to sign two quarterbacks in the 2020 class, but they have to be careful not to upset the guy who has been committed since last summer. You don’t want to lose your first choice because you’re looking for a fourth choice.

Quarterback recruiting is a touchy situation, which is why it helps to have a guy like Ryan Day who can get the most out of the guys he has.

Depth is important, but what is even more important is having a coach who can turn the top two quarterbacks into productive players.

Without the ability to develop players, after all, it doesn’t matter how many stay or how many go.

8 Responses

  1. Did I miss something? This article seemed to be written with the assumption that Field is eligible to start THIS fall.

    Because if Fields can’t. . .then departure of Martell has huge. . .HUGE implication to this offense. Like. . .this article becomes completely inadequate.

  2. Not sure if he’s gone, and can see why a top flight QB would want to do that. See Joey Burrows at LSU and other top programs had top tier QB’s leave as well. Buckeye fans should remember that Troy Smith wasn’t the QB darling of his era at OSU as well, there was this other kid from NE Ohio….. Part of this I put on OSU’s coaching staff more on him. If OSU would of stayed on course and beaten badly the weaker B1G West teams in the middle of the season, Tate would of gotten a lot more playing time as the back up and we could have seen a lot more dual QB play, which could have paid great dividends in the last part of the season. Not only that, with OSU’s porous run game, it forced OSU to use only Haskins, see his throwing stats verse MN, PUR, NE…. and kept us from truly using Tate as this role. Don’t blame, him, but would love to see him stay as nothing says Fields or Baldwin are anywhere familiar with the O as he is.

  3. Between “modern” transfer rules and the fact that “There can be only one!” this is going to become a chronic problem for all of the perennial contenders and we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg now.
    I wish I had an answer that wasn’t an armchair coach pipe-dream but I’m just as flummoxed as Coach Day and Coach Saban must be right now. You WANT the kid who isn’t satisfied sitting because that’s who makes the best QB once they’re in the game. But of course that means they’re not gonna burn their precious 4-5 years waiting. They MIGHT wait 1 – 2 years, but that’s gonna be it. Of course you just never know who’s gonna pan out and who isn’t so spacing doesn’t always work.

  4. QB transfers are a result of coaching decisions. If I were a 4 or 5 star recruit, I’d want to go a school where I’d be a starter or share playing time. That’s why Fields, Martell, Burrow, and Hurts are transferring. Either Coach Day knows something we don’t or he’s made a risky choice for next year. I’m betting on the former.

  5. IMO, Martell would have been a distraction. He had his own agenda, and he never backed up what he’d say online.

    To me, it seemed he was looking out for himself first, llast and otherwise.

    I’m not sorry to see him go, since that’s what he wants, and I certainly wish him the best.

    Hope he gains some maturity and learns some lessons along the way.

  6. The reality is that, in the case of OSU for sure and other major college teams as well, the “tail is wagging the dog” with respect to the power QBs have over their team’s plans. There are 4 variables for success for the 2019 OSU quarterbacks, and OSU truly controls only 1 of them:

    1) Matthew Baldwin will be a good QB- I believe it and OSU controls it
    2) Justin Fields will be eligible to play- beyond OSU control
    3) If eligible, Fields will live up to expectations- most accurate to say OSU can control this next year. He would have to learn a new system FAST and well enough to unseat Baldwin to boot.
    4) Baldwin/Fields stay healthy the entire season- totally beyond OSU control

    In shorter terms- not good.

    1. I would give a retort but none of that makes any sense.

      1. I will add this though….There is no “tails wagging the dog”. It’s amateur sports. The school/team is the dog and the student/athlete is the dog. No “tails” involved.

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