COLUMBUS, Ohio — When the Big Ten revealed the list of attendees for the conference’s annual media days on Tuesday, a curious name was missing from Ohio State’s representatives.
Despite being a fifth-year senior, a fourth-year starter and the only three-time captain in program history, Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett will not be a part of Ohio State’s contingent for the conference’s unofficial kickoff. Rather, it will be center Billy Price, defensive end Tyquan Lewis and linebacker Chris Worley answering questions on behalf of the Buckeyes in Chicago July 24 and 25.
Why no Barrett?
Unfortunately for the conspiracy theorists of the college football world, the answer to that question is probably simpler than you would’ve hoped it would be. After Barrett represented Ohio State in the Windy City last year, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer likely opted to give three of his classmates — all fellow fifth-year seniors and returning starters — the opportunity to do the same in 2017.
Since arriving at Ohio State in 2012, Meyer hasn’t followed a formula when it’s come to choosing players to attend the preseason gathering. Largely, he’s relied on seniors, although in 2013 he sent Braxton Miller, then a junior, to represent the Buckeyes.
In 2015, neither Ezekiel Elliott nor Joey Bosa attended Big Ten Media Days, despite being two of college football’s best-known players at the time. In other words, Meyer isn’t overly worried about creating exposure for Ohio State. He knows his program already has enough as it is.
Which is why when choosing this year’s contingent, he likely didn’t think twice when selecting the three fifth-year seniors that he did to send to Chicago. Barrett won’t be the only star missing in the Windy City; neither Penn State running back Saquon Barkley nor quarterback Trace McSorley will be a part of the Nittany Lions’ contingent. The reality is, coaches seemingly value these opportunities differently than the media does.
And truth be told, if you want to talk to Barrett, it’s not tough to do. In 2016, he was available more than any other Ohio State player, the week before and immediately after each game.
Make no mistake. Given all he’s accomplished and the position he plays, Barrett is still the face of the Buckeyes. It’s just going to be three different faces representing Ohio State in Chicago later this month.