The case for and against Alabama pursuing Braxton Miller


We don't know whether Braxton Miller wants to transfer to Alabama. We don't even know for sure that he plans on leaving Ohio State. But just the idea of Miller heading to Tuscaloosa is exciting. It raises all sorts of possibilities.

But there are two sides to the possibility of Miller linking up with Alabama. There's a case to be made that the match is made in heaven. There's also a case to be made warning of its potential pitfalls. So before any decisions are made, how about we look at both sides of the coin?

The case for: For one half of the spring game, Jake Coker looked like a quarterback that might be able to lead Alabama to an SEC championship. Then he came out at the start of the third quarter and threw what can no longer be described as an uncharacteristic interception. He holds onto the football too long too often. And when he does let it rip, too often it's either off target or into heavy coverage. But Coker isn't the only quarterback on Alabama's roster that struggled during the A-Day scrimmage. Whether it was Coker, David Cornwell, Cooper Bateman, Blake Barnett or Alec Morris, they were all varying degrees of average. Looking at the bigger picture, none of them were what you would call inspiring. So why not bring in a quarterback who is? Why not court someone with legitimate Heisman Trophy potential?

If Miller is indeed interested in transferring to Alabama, then Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin ought to fly to Columbus, Ohio, right now and get on bended knee. Because Miller might just be the quarterback who can take the Crimson Tide to the promised land. He'd certainly enter fall camp as the presumptive favorite to start under center and he'd almost assuredly be on the short list for the Heisman Trophy. With a solid offensive line, a talented group of receivers and the tandem of Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake running the football, he'd have as solid a supporting cast as he could hope to find anywhere, including Ohio State. It would be a win-win: Miller gets everything Alabama has to offer and Alabama gets a quarterback with the talent to win a national championship.

The case against: If Coker taught us nothing, it's that the learning curve for quarterbacks is significant. Jimbo Fisher might have made it sound like his former quarterback was the next coming of Johnny Unitas, but in fact Coker was behind the eight ball before he ever left Florida State for Alabama. He missed taking part in spring practice and never had enough time during the summer to learn the playbook. In just a few months it was impossible for him to establish the same type of chemistry teammates had developed with Blake Sims over four years. Oh, and in the midst of all of that, Coker was working his way back from a serious knee injury. Sound familiar? It should. Miller is certainly more of a proven commodity than Coker, but we shouldn't forget that he missed all of last year with a shoulder injury and was unable to participate in Ohio State's spring game. Where Coker made his decision to transfer to Alabama in January and was able to prepare while he finished his degree at FSU, it's late April and Miller still hasn't pulled the trigger. With each passing day, he's making the potential transition that much harder.

But from a wider perspective, taking a graduate transfer, whether it's Miller or anyone else, might not be the prudent decision. Renting a quarterback for a year comes with a price, after all. Because if you do, you're guaranteed to be back in the same place next spring with no incumbent under center. So why not invest in the future? There's enough talent on offense for Alabama to support a quarterback who's learning on the job. Between Drake and Henry, they can go run-heavy for a year and see what happens. It worked in 2009 when a redshirt sophomore named AJ McCarron took the reins. Cornwell might be a year younger, but he's talented enough to win games in the SEC. Saban could even gamble on the true freshman Barnett. There would be growing pains, of course, but that could the case regardless of whether the starting quarterback is someone already on campus or not. At least if it's one of Alabama's younger quarterbacks, you'd know that if it didn't work out in 2015, there would always be next year.