In April, the Paul Finebaum show is a barren wasteland of Football Only Gumps yelling the wildest conjecture into telephones and over radio waves. The show is dumber than it usually is during football season. To make up for the lack of actual news to talk about, Finebaum will stir the pot with provocative statements about spring practices, coaching rumors and takes so hot you need to turn the A/C up in your car when you hear them.
Pawwwwl's latest attempt to stir up the FOGs - and, thanks to his new-found national audience courtesy of ESPN, B1G fans - is a rumor about the electrifying Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. Finebaum cited the all-knowing, never proven wrong "anonymous sources" as saying there is a small chance Miller ends up playing for the Tide this fall.
That rumor should make Alabama fans giddy at first glance. Miller is a lethal dual-threat QB who could immediately make Alabama the odds on favorite for the national title. A potential transfer though is a long shot, and may not be the best long term solution for the Crimson Tide.
The biggest drawback in Alabama bringing in Miller is his health. Miller is recovering from a non-contact injury to his throwing shoulder that occurred in August 2014. Miller missed three games in 2013 with a minor knee injury. The shoulder injury is concerning. Any non-contact injuries to shoulders, knees or ankles are generally major injuries that are hard to come back from.
No one outside of the Ohio State program has seen Miller throw the ball past 10 yards this spring, Bleacher Report's Alabama Lead Writer Marc Torrence said. Miller is a QB, and his ability to throw is the most important aspect of his game. If Miller transferred, but still was limited throwing, his development in a new offense would be severely handicapped.
Learning an entirely new offense at Alabama could be an insurmountable challenge for Miller. Miller wants to go somewhere he could start. Miller has one year of NCAA eligibility left, and he probably does not want to use it holding a clipboard. He could potentially be Jacob Coker 2.0. Coker was supposed to be the heir to the throne that A.J. McCarron left vacant at Alabama. But Coker's inexperience in the Tide's program opened the door for Blake Sims and his magical season. Now Coker is the one with the experience advantage, and he looks like the favorite to win the starting job over Alabama's four other quarterbacks. Miller would have to beat out Coker, and a slew of highly touted young quarterbacks.
For Alabama, a transfer by Miller could hurt potential transfers and recruits in the future. When Nick Saban brought in Coker, nearly everyone in the country thought Coker would start. Sims won the job and Alabama made the playoff. Luckily for Coker, he has one more year of eligibility, and with Sims graduated, he has one more chance to start for Alabama.
If Miller transferred in and won the starting job, that would leave Coker and Alabama in an awkward position. Obviously, Saban and Kiffin want the best player to start at QB, and if Miller were that player he would win the job. But Coker would probably feel some amount of betrayal. Recruiting, especially recruiting transfers, is a delicate thing. There has to be at least a small amount of loyalty from the coaches to the players.
Blake Barnett and David Cornwell would not be irked by bringing in Miller. They have time to develop, and if things do not go their way, transfer themselves. For Coker and future recruits, Miller could present a problem. One or two years of eligibility coupled with sugar-coated, weak promises of a starting job can be a volatile mixture. If Coker lost that chance to start due to a transfer, he would be justifiably upset. What is just business as usual in college football could be seen as disloyalty from Saban to prospective recruits at Alabama.
All the rumors around Miller are simply speculation. Miller graduated from OSU in December. If he wanted to transfer he probably would have already. Even though Miller could be successful for the Crimson Tide, it might be in everyone's best interest if he stays in Columbus.