Urban Meyer has coached a No. 1 draft pick in Alex Smith and a Heisman trophy winner in Tim Tebow. He has a pretty good feel for quarterbacks and the seasons that lie before them.
It was odd, then, to hear what he had to say about Braxton Miller at Big Ten media days on Thursday. Unlike Tebow before his Heisman campaign at Florida, Miller, in Meyer's eyes, has not done enough to be considered a Heisman candidate:
Urban said he was ready to declare Tim Tebow a Heisman candidate before his '07 season. Not ready to say that for Braxton Miller yet.— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) July 25, 2013
Oddsmakers certainly don't agree. In the most recent Bovada update, Miller was listed as an 11/2 bet to win the esteemed trophy. That puts him well above guys like Jadeveon Clowney (15/2), T.J. Yeldon (9/1) and AJ McCarron (10/1), trailing no one but reigning winner Johnny Manziel—who, at 5/1, is just fractionally ahead of him.
It's not hard to figure why, either. Miller made marked improvements in 2012, finishing with 2,000-plus passing yards, 1,000-plus rushing yards and leading the Big Ten with 8.1 adjusted passing yards per attempt. He also led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 record, and despite his team's postseason ban, still managed to finish fifth in the Heisman voting.
He's expected to be even better—especially as a passer—in 2013, and considering the Buckeyes' "easy" schedule, he's also expected to lead his team to the BCS National Championship. If he improves even slightly on last year's numbers and posts his second consecutive undefeated season, it would be hard to discount him as a good Heisman candidate.
Braxton Miller Has a ___ Chance of Winning the Heisman
Which is why Meyer's comments are so odd. Is he trying to motivate his quarterback with blatantly effacing comments? Did Miller get cocky after last year's success; is he trying to put a chip back on his shoulder? Or does he genuinely not think his quarterback is a candidate for the Heisman?
In truth, Meyer's comments were probably a semantic mistake. No matter what he actually thinks, saying Miller isn't a Heisman "candidate" is ludicrous. Again: He finished fifth in last year's voting! What Meyer might of meant to say is that Miller isn't a Heisman "frontrunner."
Either way, though, it wasn't what folks were expecting to hear.