-- COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The first major decision in Ohio State's heated quarterback competition was made by flipping a coin. The final verdict won't be settled quite as easily, and Urban Meyer isn't planning on making it public until his starter runs out to take the first snap in the season opener next month.
Calling heads in Ohio State's meeting room, Cardale Jones won the flip and the honor of leading the first-string offense for the reigning national champions during the first drill of training camp Monday afternoon. But just like the coin toss, the QB race remains a 50-50 proposition, with plenty of practices ahead of Jones and J.T. Barrett and no rush for the program to declare a winner.
"We won't announce anything until the first guy takes the field against Virginia Tech," Meyer said. "I'm trying to think if we've ever had to do that where it's 50-50 [with the practice reps]. I don't think we ever have.
"Everybody comments on the Chris Leak-Tim Tebow dilemma we had," Meyer said, referring to his quarterbacks at Florida when he was head coach in 2006, "but those were two different skill sets, so they were almost different offenses. This one, I think it's going to be 50-50, so it's a little bit of a work in progress. Our objective is the first dozen practices, 50-50, right down the middle."
The Buckeyes still had to figure out whom to send out for the opening snaps of training camp, and Meyer left that up to new quarterbacks coach Tim Beck. Beck's solution was to toss a coin in the air, although moving forward, Ohio State simply will alternate between Jones and Barrett until somebody emerges as the top option.
That might not take every practice all the way up to Ohio State's Sept. 7 game at Virginia Tech, but even if it doesn't, the Buckeyes aren't planning on tipping their hand against the only team to beat them last season.
"I think more or less it's giving the guys the opportunity to really compete," Beck said. "We're going to need every day, and there's probably going to be a time during the course of the season we're going to need both of them. To just settle on one and say, 'Here's the keys,' and the other guy sits back and becomes the second-team guy, I don't know if that's the right thing to do.
"I think the best thing to do is just let them keep competing. Competition is a beautiful thing. It really keeps you focused, keeps you working hard, and the better guy at the end will come out being that guy."
That is one decision the Buckeyes won't be leaving up to chance. And one toss of the coin was enough anyway for Jones, who made it clear he'd prefer to just take turns until somebody pulls ahead on merit.
"I would prefer not to flip a coin to see who goes first next time," Jones said. "I'll let Coach Beck know that.
"It should go back and forth. What if I win the coin flip every time?"