J.T. Barrett’s status for Saturday night’s Big Ten championship game, sideline security and the fiasco that Tennessee created when it tried to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as its head coach were the headliners at Urban Meyer’s weekly press conference on Monday.
Barrett did not play the last quarter and a half of OSU’s 31-20 win over Michigan last Saturday because of a season-long knee issue that was aggravated in a pre-game sideline collision with a photographer and flared up in the third quarter after he was tackled at the end of a run.
Barrett has “moved into probable” for the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin, Meyer said. “He’s doing a nice job with all the rehab.”
Barrett did not practice on Sunday and the amount of practice time he gets this week will be determined by how he feels.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins replaced Barrett after the injury and led Ohio State to 17 unanswered points. Even if Barrett can return to the practice field, Haskins probably will get more time in practice with the starters than during a typical week.
Schiano, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State and a former head coach at Rutgers and in the NFL, reached an agreement with the University of Tennessee to become the Vols’ head coach which leaked out on Sunday morning. But opposition from a sizable number of Tennessee fans and an old accusation that he knew of Jerry Sandusky’s crimes at Penn State and stayed silent caused the university to withdraw the offer Sunday night.
When Meyer was asked for his reaction, he said, “I’m not angry. I will just make this statement: “He’s an elite person, elite father, elite husband, elite friend and elite football coach.”
Later he offered some advice, “Move on and keep swinging. You’re at a great place.”
After the game at Michigan, Meyer called for an investigation of how someone on the sideline bumped into Barrett and aggravated his knee injury.
Monday, he sounded less angry and said it was being handled “administratively.”
“I made the comment that they should look into it and I guess that blew up and all that, and they should,” Meyer said. “I trust the right people will look into it. Sidelines have gotten … it’s too much now.”
Some other thoughts from Meyer:
—- PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Ohio State’s offensive Players of the Game against Michigan were tackle Isaiah Prince and tight end Marcus Baugh. The defensive Players of the Game were Sam Hubbard and Denzel Ward. Erick Smith was special teams Player of the Game.
Prince and Baugh have often been viewed as underachievers but Meyer said both have grown and matured.
“Isaiah Prince had six knock downs and played very well. His maturity and growth have been really much needed and really exceptional right now,” he said.
Baugh has gone from an underachiever to a very good player, Meyer said. “I have a lot of respect, we all do, for the way he has turned it around.”
Meyer called Hubbard “an energizer.” “He knows one speed. You just turn him on and he goes and goes.”
—- HUBBARD SENIOR TACKLE: Hubbard, who would still have a year of eligibility next season because of redshirting, participated in the senior tackle ceremony last week.
“He’s been a three-year starter. He’s a graduate. And that’s his decision. We talked about it and he wanted to go through senior tackle. That’s his call,” Meyer said.
So, does this mean Hubbard probably will enter the NFL draft? “I don’t want to speak for him,” Meyer said.
—- TOUGH EAST DIVISION: With Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State all in the East Division of the Big Ten, there is a small margin for error, as OSU found out last year and in 2015.
Meyer was asked if the competitiveness inside the division toughens teams or wears them out.
“I think you have no choice but that it toughens you up. It toughens you up but that’s where we and our coaches have to be smart. We understand what they’ve been through,” he said.