Dear J.T. Barrett,
I have a confession to make. I doubt you care or will ever read this after what transpired Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, but this feels like the appropriate moment to get this off my chest.
I doubted you. So did many, many others. In fact, after your Ohio State Buckeyes lost at home to Oklahoma back in September, I thought a change was needed at quarterback. I called for your backup, Dwayne Haskins, to get reps—going as far to tweet out a link to his recruiting profile. It was clever in the moment, I suppose. But now? What an idiot I was.
Despite knowing you weren't purely to blame for the team's offensive issues, I questioned the decision to stick with you.
Nearly two months later, in the aftermath of your heroic effort in a 39-38 victory over Penn State—one of the best games of the football season—an apology feels appropriate. I'm here to do that and take it a step or two further.
First, the game itself. I doubt you know exactly what you accomplished given that you were at the center of a dramatic come-from-behind victory—the kind of win that could earn you a Heisman or get your program in the College Football Playoff—so allow me to lay it out for you.
You led your team back from the dead and almost single-handedly erased an 18-point deficit against one of the nation's best defenses. That's the largest comeback Urban Meyer, your head coach, has ever overseen. The game never felt truly over, but I'd be lying if I claimed I planned to write this apology. In fact, I had a story about the gutsy performance of Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley all cued up deep in the fourth quarter.
You completed your last 16 throws, which is remarkable. For the game, you completed 33 of your 39 throws overall. And get this: You were 13-of-13 for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.
You were a statistical supernova, passing for 328 yards and four touchdowns and running for 95 yards. Your numbers on the year are mind-boggling, too. Did you know you've accounted for 30 touchdowns and only thrown one interception? Why weren't we talking more about you sooner?
You broke another record—something we're saying on a weekly basis. This was a big one, though. No player in the Big Ten has thrown more touchdown passes than your 94. (You passed Drew Brees, who had 90, by the way. Not bad company.)
You delivered throws with pace and accuracy time and time again. Despite missing out on a long pass early, you were close to perfect the rest of the way. You didn't panic. You didn't change your game. If anything, the 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter seemed to make you even better.
And after the win, you didn't look like a quarterback who'd been reborn. You smiled and embraced your teammates as your fans surrounded you—a moment I imagine will stay with you forever.
But you didn't call out your doubters. This didn't feel like redemption—a moment to tell people like me and many other nonbelievers what you were capable of. You didn't celebrate this like it was the crowning performance of your career, even if it might have been. Instead, you did what you have always done.
"I just did my job. That's what they talked about all year and even since I've been here," you said on the Fox broadcast following the game, refusing to take full credit for the win. "Everybody does their job and we're going to be winners, so I just did my job and tried to play my best for the team."
Sure, you had help along the way. Please be sure to pass along extended kudos to your defensive line. While you did your part on the offensive side, your front seven played out of its mind down the stretch—allowing you the opportunities to play the game you did. Without that group, I probably wouldn't be writing this.
But this day and this night and whatever happens next will likely be about you, which is how it should be.
It's safe to say we have taken you for granted over the past four years. Sure, it has been rocky at times. But we've been far more willing and eager to celebrate the bad nights—the Oklahomas, the Clemsons—than we have the good.
This wasn't just a good night. This was a historic performance on the back end of a wildly successful, productive collegiate career.
You saved Ohio State's season. You put yourself in position to potentially win the Heisman in a little over a month on December 9. Despite having doubters (like me), you put forth an effort that could serve as a catalyst for much grander things in the weeks and months to follow.
There will be time for all that eventually. This is by no means the end. For now, however, I can write the following and feel absolutely no remorse in doing so. This one I'm sure of.