College football fans hate “bye” weeks. It seems like something bad always happens when the players on your favorite team are away from their normal weekly routine of classes, practices, and film study.
This week Ohio State has a bye week, and the jinx bit — just when Ohio State seemed to have turned a corner with J.T. Barrett taking over the starting position at quarterback and the Buckeyes posting a crushing road victory over Rutgers last weekend. To the consternation of members of Buckeye Nation everywhere, Barrett was cited early this morning for a misdemeanor count of OMVI. He will serve a one-game suspension, will missing the Buckeyes’ game against Minnesota, and will be eligible to return for the game against Illinois the following week. In the meantime, Cardale Jones will once again start for the Buckeyes — and we’ll see whether Barrett regains the starting job once he’s eligible to play again.
This kind of news is maddening for many college football fans, who wonder why athletes can’t toe the line and avoid these kinds of incidents. I think such people forget what it’s like to be a young college student, with temptations around every corner and students dealing with the pervasive feeling of invulnerability that comes with youth. J.T. Barrett seems like such a mature, capable decision-maker on the football field that we’re surprised that he doesn’t always make the same careful decisions and check-downs in his personal life. I guess he’s human after all.
I’ve not met J.T. Barrett, but everything I’ve ready about him tells me that he will be harder on himself for this lapse than just about anyone else — except perhaps Coach Urban Meyer. Young people frequently make mistakes; the key thing is to learn from them. J.T. Barrett seems like a good student of the game of football; let’s hope he’s an equally adept student about learning about life.