Ohio State football practice Buckeyes Kyle McCord

When Ohio State Named Its Starting Quarterback Each Of The Past 25 Years

The folks are getting antsy.

“When is Ryan Day going to name a starting quarterback?” they cry.

This weekend, Day’s scheduled press conference for Wednesday got moved up to Monday, leading to some wondering if maybe a decision has been made between junior Kyle McCord and redshirt freshman Devin Brown following Saturday’s scrimmage.

According to an Ohio State spokesman, however, the move was to simply allow reporters to ask Day about this past Saturday’s scrimmage, instead of asking for updates from tight ends coach Keenan Bailey and his group of players, who were originally scheduled for Monday.

It was a good move for all involved, but will it lead to a quarterback announcement? If so, it will be the earliest announcement of a winner in a true quarterback battle in the past 25 years. (And probably longer, but how far back do we really need to go?)

As you’ll see, not every year has a quarterback announcement. Some are incumbents, some are understood, and sometimes the NCAA made the decision for a head coach.

Of late, however, it usually happens after the second scrimmage of fall camp. Ryan Day will eventually have to name a starter, but history tells us it won’t be just yet.

There was no need for an announcement. Joe Germaine had been coming off the bench for the previous two seasons behind Stanley Jackson. Jackson graduated in 1997, leaving Germaine free and clear to be the Buckeyes’ starter.

The 1999 season was the first of three years as a starter for Steve Bellisari. However, it was Austin Moherman who was named the starter for the 1999 season. Moherman actually started the first two games that season. Head coach John Cooper made the call on August 23.

Steve Bellisari was the incumbent, so there was no decision to really be made, despite the fact that Ohio State was coming off of a 6-6 season that began with a preseason ranking of ninth in the country.

Steve Bellisari returned for his third season as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, but he was dealing with a new head coach as Jim Tressel replaced John Cooper following the 2000 season. Bellisari began spring camp as the guy who went first in the reps, but Tressel opened up the competition to all comers. He named Bellisari the starter on August 30, telling reporters, “Steve will start, unless something crazy happens between now and then.” Bellisari had been pushed by backup Scott McMullen. The third-stringer was a guy named Craig Krenzel.

Craig Krenzel started the final two games of the 2001 season while Steve Bellisari was serving some punishment from Jim Tressel. As such, Krenzel entered 2002 as the de facto starter despite splitting reps in both spring and fall camp with Scott McMullen.

After leading the Buckeyes to a national championship the year before, Craig Krenzel wasn’t going to lose his starting job.

Jim Tressel announced Justin Zwick as the winner of OSU’s quarterback competition on August 26, 2004. Zwick beat out Troy Smith. Both players were redshirt sophomores. Zwick started the first six games that season before being replaced by Smith.

Troy Smith was suspended for the 2004 Alamo Bowl by Jim Tressel on December 20, 2004 for violating NCAA and team rules after it was discovered that he reportedly received $500 from a booster to help pay for a cell phone bill. That suspension would actually stretch to two games because of the amount of the violation. So, once Smith’s suspension was announced, that then unknowingly became the date that Zwick was announced as the starter for the 2005 season opener against Miami. Zwick also started the following week in a loss to Texas.

Given Troy Smith’s effectiveness as the eventual starter in 2005, he entered the 2006 season as The Guy. He responded with a Heisman Trophy while leading the Buckeyes to the BCS National Championship Game.

Jim Tressel named Todd Boeckman as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback on August 28, 2007. Boeckman, a redshirt junior, held off redshirt sophomore Rob Schoenhoft and redshirt freshman Antonio Henton in the competition.

With Todd Boeckman being a successful returning starter who led the Buckeyes to a second-consecutive BCS National Championship Game appearance, there was no real competition, even though it was understood that true freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor was going to play. When Ohio State released its first depth chart on August 26, 2008, Boeckman was the No. 1, and Pryor was listed as No. 3, behind No. 2 Joe Bauserman.

After eventually claiming the job in 2008, Terrelle Pryor was the unquestioned starter entering the 2009 season.

Terrelle Pryor was back for his junior season after leading the Buckeyes to consecutive appearances in BCS bowl games, which used to be a thing that was seen as an accomplishment worth noting.

Now is not the time to get into all of the reasons why and how, but head coach Luke Fickell named Joe Bauserman as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback on August 30, 2011, just four days prior to the season opener against Akron. Bauserman won out over true freshman Braxton Miller, but only for a few games.

Urban Meyer was hired by Ohio State on November 28, 2011, and at his introductory press conference spoke glowingly about Braxton Miller. There was never any reason to think Miller’s starting job was in jeopardy, and Meyer shut the door on those thoughts during his presser.

You don’t bench the quarterback who led you to an undefeated season the year before, even with Kenny Guiton on the roster.

This one was tricky because Braxton Miller was the returning starter, but a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season on August 18, 2014. Two days prior, head coach Urban Meyer announced that JT Barrett had moved past Cardale Jones as Miller’s backup. Once Miller went down, it was Barrett who moved to the head of the table as the Buckeyes’ starter.

Fall camp in 2015 featured JT Barrett and Cardale Jones battling it out to be the starter. The season before, Barrett produced one of the best quarterback seasons in OSU history as a redshirt freshman, but it was Jones who was the starter in the Buckeyes’ three postseason games — including the College Football Playoff wins over Alabama and Oregon. It was a difficult decision for everyone involved. Never one to ignore an opportunity to keep an opponent guessing, however, Urban Meyer didn’t announce a starting quarterback for the 2015 season until the season opener against Virginia Tech. And even then, he waited until the Hokies’ first possession ended in a punt before telling Cardale Jones to go get on the field, finally revealing the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback to the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback. The date was September 7, 2015.

After wresting back control of the starting job before the 2015 season ended, JT Barrett entered the 2016 season as the unquestioned starter. He led the Buckeyes to the College Football Playoffs.

JT Barrett was back for his fourth-and-final season as Ohio State’s starting quarterback. He would end up winning the third of his three Big Ten Quarterback of the Year Awards.

The spring of 2018 featured a highly-entertaining quarterback battle between Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins. Burrow had talked about the possibility of transferring following the 2017 season if he didn’t come out of spring ball in 2018 as the starter. He followed through on those thoughts, and when he did end up transferring, that left Haskins as the clear starter. Head coach Urban Meyer then confirmed that on June 15, 2018 while speaking at an event.

With Dwayne Haskins off to the NFL after just one year, new Ohio State head coach Ryan Day went into the transfer portal and landed former Georgia Bulldog Justin Fields. Fields battled with Matthew Baldwin for the job in the spring, and despite outplaying Fields in the spring game (Baldwin 20-36 for 246 yards with two TDs and 2 INTs / Fields 4-13 for 131 yards with one TD), Baldwin transferred out after spring came to a close. That left Fields to battle in fall camp with Chris Chugunov and Kentucky transfer Gunnar Hoak. Day eventually named Fields the starter on August 19, 2019.

Justin Fields returned as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, and nobody on this big, blue marble was going to change that. Not even Kevin Warren.

With Justin Fields off to the NFL, the Buckeyes went into spring ball with a three-man competition between redshirt freshmen CJ Stroud and Jack Miller, and true freshman Kyle McCord. McCord eventually made it a two-man race with Stroud in fall camp. Fall camp also saw the introduction of Quinn Ewers, who some people tried to claim was going to contend for the starting spot, but that was a ridiculous notion. Head coach Ryan Day eventually named Stroud the starter on August 21, 2021.

With CJ Stroud returning, and Quinn Ewers safely off to the portal, the job was once again Stroud’s. He went on to win the seventh-consecutive Big Ten Quarterback of the Year award for Ohio State, and 10th in 11 years.

The battle is raging right now between Kyle McCord and Devin Brown. The Buckeyes have been through just one scrimmage to this point, but there’s another one coming this weekend. Those two scrimmages should solidify any remaining competitions. So when will a starter be named? Well, coincidentally, the starter in 2019 was named on August 19, and the starter in 2021 was named on August 21. Perhaps the starter in 2023 will be named on August 23, which just happens to be the day the Ohio State beat is scheduled to talk to quarterbacks coach Corey Dennis and the assorted Buckeye quarterbacks.

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