Did Nick Saban fuel J.T. Barrett's 'weenie arm' rant?
J.T. Barrett wasn’t making anything up.
The Ohio State quarterback went on a mini rant yesterday about the national perception that he has a “weenie arm.” Nobody could pinpoint which comment specifically sparked the normally reserved Barrett to sound off.
Well, look no further than Nick Saban.
The former Michigan State and current Alabama coach has been on the opposite sideline for many key Ohio State showdowns, most recently the College Football Playoff semifinal. That game was after Cardale Jones started in place of the injured J.T. Barrett and led the Buckeyes to a 59-0 drubbing of Wisconsin in the B1G Championship.
Before the Buckeyes squared off with Alabama, Saban was asked about the difference of preparing for Jones compared to Barrett.
“The one thing that the new quarterback does is he has a tremendous arm. And they have some very talented receivers. And the two things that were very apparent is those things became very apparent in the last two games because of the quarterback,” Saban said before the semifinal game, according to cleveland.com.
“Now, they were a little different and the quarterback was a great runner, when (Barrett) was playing, and he was a good passer. But it wasn’t so obvious when you watched the film all season long that they had these great skill players that could really make plays down the field.”
Saban could’ve just meant it as a complement to Jones, who did indeed torch Alabama with deep balls. Still, it would be understandable for Barrett to take that as a slight to his game. He did reference the fact that the “weenie arm” notion was something that motivated him all offseason, which would match up with the timeline of Saban’s comments.
Barrett’s rant also referenced the 2014 season before he got hurt in the regular-season finale.
“I threw deep balls the whole year,” Barrett said after practice on Wednesday. “And they’re like, ‘Oh, Cardale, he’s got a strong arm and can throw it deeper down field.’ What? What are you talking about? I did the same thing.”
There’s truth to that. Barrett averaged nine yards per completion last year and go-to target Devin Smith averaged 28 yards per catch in 2014. Barrett finished fifth in the Heisman voting because of how explosive the Buckeye offense was with him running the show.
We’ll likely never hear Barrett single anybody out for being the source of his rant. But it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if the built-up frustration stemmed from Saban.
If Barrett and the Buckeyes get a rematch against Alabama in the College Football Playoff, you can bet Barrett would welcome the chance to show Saban his arm.