J.T. Barrett suspension raises questions
The Ohio State QB’s drunk driving arrest earned him a one game suspension, but some are wondering if he got off easy.
A running theme during this college football season has been speculation over who the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes would start at quarterback. OSU has had the luxury of choosing between Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett, two players that could start for any team in the nation.
When the Buckeyes play the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, the choice will be out of their hands.
Barrett was suspended on Saturday following an arrest for “operating a motor vehicle while impaired,” a misdemeanor charge in Ohio that is similar to a DUI. The 20-year-old Barrett is not legally old enough to drink alcohol, and according to OSU policy, a first-offense alcohol misdemeanor for players under 21 results in at least a one-game suspension — if Barrett had been charged with an alcohol-related felony, the penalty would be an automatic two-week suspension.
Barrett will also lose his financial aid for his summer semester, per OSU regulations.
There is room for a coach to adjust punishments based on the case, however, and some in the sports media are asking if the on-the-field suspension length is too short.
Sports Illustrated’s Saturday Blitz section of the FanSided blog argued that Urban Meyer’s leniency sent the wrong message to his team. Meyer has made comments in the past regarding other teams’ handling of discipline — for example, SBNation dug up a recent Meyer conversation with television host Bill O’Reilly:
“’Look at Jameis Winston down in Florida State,’ O’Reilly said. ‘He steals some crab legs or something. But the guy’s a brilliant quarterback, so they let it go down there. I don’t think you would have let it go, right?’
Without being too specific, Meyer answered O’Reilly’s question.
‘That would have been hard to let that go,’ he said.”
Meyer has come under fire for discipline issues at his previous job in Florida. He categorically denied any allegations of impropriety, but the reputation of being loose with the rules followed him to Ohio State.
Barrett’s suspension most likely won’t cost Ohio State a shot at the national championship — the Gophers, while feisty, are significant underdogs on Saturday. But the lasting implications of Meyer’s decision to go easy on his star player will stretch far beyond this week’s game.