As The Tate Turns
The rumors of an ultra-talented quarterback transferring to Ohio State certainly set off a chain of events. There was the expected endless speculation as to was he, or was he not going to become a Buckeye, and would the NCAA grant him immediate eligibility. There were interesting statements, and more interesting tweets from the Buckeye who just about everyone looked at as the heir apparent to Dwayne Haskins. The ultra-talented quarterback did indeed transfer, and become a Buckeye. For a few days after it all became official the anticipation began to build for another quarterback battle to commence in spring practice. Then the heir apparent started to explore a transfer, and took any mention of Ohio State off of his Twitter bio. Then Mom got involved. Once Mom gets involved you know things are going to get a bit icky. Welcome to “As The Tate Turns”, the show about bold statements, cryptic tweets, and mad moms. Yes, folks, this situation has all the makings of another soap opera involving the Ohio State football program.
When it looked like Justin Fields was going to transfer from Georgia to Ohio State, Tate Martell was of course asked about this. He said there was no reason for him to transfer because he was sure he was going to win the job. “I know I’m an elite quarterback. I know that after two years of being here, I run our offense at a very efficient level…,” Martell said. But, he also posted a not-so-veiled message on social media aimed at Fields, and when asked said he had no interest in meeting him. Before the Rose Bowl he said, “This dude hasn't put a single second into Ohio State football. I don't know why somebody would think that the grass is greener on the other side, but I guess he's kind of looking at it like a fantasy way, I guess.” Martell does not lack confidence or bravado, and I’m fine with that. As we now know, Fields is a Buckeye, and we’ve all been bracing for another epic spring practice quarterback battle. But, things heated up late this past week, and you could almost hear that overly-dramatic organ music once used by soap operas beginning in the background.
On Thursday it was reported by multiple outlets Martell had put his name into the NCAA transfer portal. This doesn’t necessarily mean a player is transferring. It allows him to see which schools are interested because they are able to contact him. The player can withdraw his name from the portal at any time, BUT the school can take away his scholarship at any time. If Martell transfers now he will need a waiver from the NCAA in order to play immediately. I don’t see him being granted that waiver because there aren’t any extenuating circumstances that led to a transfer. He is on track to graduate this spring, so if he goes through spring practice, and doesn’t win the job, he can leave as a graduate transfer, and play immediately. My thinking is he is testing the waters to see who is interested (Miami and WVU have been speculated as potential landing spots), and then he’ll withdraw his name. If he doesn’t win the job coming out of spring practice, he’ll go ahead and transfer. Well, I thought that way until Martell removed any mention of Ohio State from his Twitter bio, and Mom got involved.
Martell’s mother, Tafi, blasted out a series of tweets referring to liars, and being lied to. Names are not mentioned, nor does she provide even the smallest of details to add perspective. This came from out of the blue, and caught everyone off guard. Quite obviously she feels her son was lied to in some way. Judging by the abrupt about face by Tate, and the erasing of his Twitter bio, I’m guessing he’s quite unhappy all of a sudden as well. I don’t believe Ryan Day or Urban Meyer promised anything to Tate or his family. Coaches of elite college football programs don’t make promises of guaranteed starting spots.
The Martell’s aren’t the first to claim they’ve been lied to by a coach, and they won’t be the last. Why should we care at all what Tafi Martell posts to social media? Personally I could care less what she has to say, but the media will. Her son is a high-profile player. Ohio State is a high-profile program. I’d be shocked if she hasn’t already been contacted by someone looking to tell her side of the story, and only her side. The finger pointing will begin, and we’ll have to deal with another anti-Buckeye smear campaign by the usual suspects in the media (Brett McMurphy, Paul Finebaum, Clay Travis, etc.). Maybe I’m wrong, and I hope I am, but this has all the makings of another soap opera filled with accusations, and a lot of they said/they said. Welcome to “As The Tate Turns.” Cue the schmaltzy theme music.
Cornerback Damon Arnette announced he is returning to the Buckeyes for his senior season. After the Rose Bowl he said he was leaning toward going to the NFL. He was the sixth-ranked cornerback by one outlet, and thought to be a mid-round draft choice. But, after consulting with former Buckeye great Cris Carter, Arnette decided to stay in Columbus. K.J. Hill also cited Carter as being instrumental in making his decision to stay.
Receiver Johnnie Dixon has been chosen for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl all-star game. This past season he caught 42 passes for 669 yards and 8 touchdowns. Dixon gets to return to the stadium where he caught the last of those touchdowns; the game is being played at the Rose Bowl. You can catch Dixon in action this Saturday at 5 PM on FS1. So far, Terry McLaurin is the only other Buckeye chosen for any of the all-star games. He’ll play in the Senior Bowl later this month. Parris Campbell turned down an invitation to play in the same game.
Ryan Day hired former Maryland assistant Matt Barnes to be special teams coordinator/secondary assistant. Considering Day’s lack of experience with special teams it isn’t surprising to see this type of hire. It also makes it clear there won’t be separate coaches for the cornerbacks and safeties. Newly hired Jeff Hafley will handle the secondary as a whole with help from Barnes.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts looks like he will be transferring. As of right now, Maryland appears the frontrunner to be his landing spot. He was on campus for a visit, and attended a basketball game with new head coach Mike Locksley. Hurts considering Maryland is not surprising at all because Locksley was his offensive coordinator at Alabama. If he does end up transferring there, a lot of media types will go overboard, and anoint the Terrapins a Big Ten championship contender, and top-ten team nationally. They’ll most certainly be improved, but not THAT much improved. Keep in mind Hurts will be surrounded by Maryland players, not Alabama players. Big difference. Yes, I know they put up 500 yards, and nearly beat the Buckeyes this past season, but they were also 5-7, and missed going to a bowl. Considering Locksley has a stellar 3-31 record as a head coach at New Mexico, and part of one season at Maryland in 2015, I think the Terrapins go from a “maybe” bowl team in 2019, to a “definite” bowl team with Hurts. If this all comes to fruition, Hurts and the Terps come to Ohio Stadium on November 9th.
Congratulations to my son's former youth hockey teammate, Austin Dorris, on announcing he will be transferring to Bowling Green. Austin spent his first four seasons of college football as a tight end with the Indiana Hoosiers. He caught 4 passes for 16 yards in 2018, including one against the Buckeyes that nearly gave his dad a heart attack. Because he has already graduated, Austin will be eligible to play immediately.
I did not plan on putting out another blog until Thursday or Friday, but too much was happening with the Martell situation, and things began piling up. My part of the Great State of Ohio has been hit with its first real snow of the season. Yippee. See you later in the week.