It wasn't supposed to be like this at Ohio State. Not this year, at least.
Ravaged with a draconian (depending on whom you ask) punishment following the improper benefits scandal of 2011, Ohio State received, among a number of other sanctions, a one-year ban from postseason play.
In turn, this season was supposed to be a forgettable one in Columbus––a transition year where Urban Meyer could gradually implement his system without the weight of Rose Bowl-sized expectations. The Buckeyes were supposed to play out the year, stay competitive and prepare to make a serious run in 2013.
But then Braxton Miller happened.
Meyer's presence was the catalyst, but on the field, Miller has single-handedly altered the course of Buckeyes history this season. The year that was supposed to be rote, banal and forgotten has suddenly became riveting, exciting and indelible. He gave the Buckeye fans reason to cheer, even without a postseason goal in sight.
But now there is a goal in sight, and a very real one at that. As a team, Ohio State isn't allowed to win any postseason accolades, but individually, Braxton Miller can. And if he leads the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record, he'll have a pretty good shot.
Not to say that this is a particularly bold assertion. Postseason eligibility or not, going 12-0 in a major conference is cause for attention. On ESPN.com's latest Heisman Watch, Miller ranks fifth in the expert voting. Not too shabby for a guy playing for nothing.
But even that isn't giving him the proper respect. Of the 15 experts surveyed, only 10 ranked Miller in the top five. Only 66 percent of the faux-voters think the undefeated quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes––the heart, body and soul of the nation's 12th-best scoring offense––deserves to be on the Heisman ballot.
Not. Enough. Respect.
Without Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes' season would have gone exactly how it was supposed to, exactly how it was explained above.
There would be no reason for the entire university to care about football with basketball season right around the corner.
His stats are jaw-dropping––1,753 yards through the air; 1,166 on the ground; 27 total TDs––but he deserves the trophy for so much more.
For lifting a school to heights it never would have seen without him, and for leading it to an undefeated record, Braxton Miller should be in serious contention for the Heisman trophy.
Postseason eligibility should have nothing to do with it.