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How's the old saying go, if you have more than one quarterback that means you don't have a quarterback?

Whoever first came up with that theory never could have imagined the situation Ohio State now finds itself in. After winning last season's national championship with a third-string quarterback, the Buckeyes are now going through the final week of spring practice with three potential stars battling for the starting spot.

But coach Urban Meyer doesn't expect clarity anytime soon.

"I think the middle of training camp," Meyer said Thursday on the Big Ten spring football conference call about when he might determine a starter. "Every one of them deserves that opportunity, and right now two of them aren't getting it. So by the middle of training camp I think you have to have a handle on this thing."

The one who is getting the opportunity is Cardale Jones, the player who led Ohio State to a victory in the Big Ten title game and the national championship game victory over Oregon. He was playing because freshman J.T. Barrett, who was enjoying a Heisman Trophy-like season, broke his leg in the regular-season finale against Michigan.

Of course, Barrett was playing after Braxton Miller, who was entering his senior season, injured his shoulder in preseason camp and was lost before the season even began.

"The strength (of the team) is the quarterbacks have continued to amaze me as far as their relationship; the power of the unit is incredible in that room," Meyer said. "Cardale and J.T. have had a great spring and Braxton is right in the middle of everything, so I'm really pleased. You never knew how that was gonna work out."

Jones is the only one who will play in Saturday's spring game, one that will see only two series for many of Ohio State's starters.

As good as the quarterbacks have been, Meyer said the same type of attitude has been present throughout the spring. Even with last season's national title, Meyer hasn't seen any sort of complacency while admitting trying to repeat last year's success can be difficult.

"No question," he said. "I have done it two other times, and this will be the third time to try and repeat, but there's a reason you don't see that word show up very often. We don't have conversations about that here."

Lopsided divisions

All seven East Division coaches took part in the teleconference on Thursday, and the difficulty of playing on that side of the Big Ten was a hot topic.

"Our side of the conference is kind of ridiculous right now as far as quality of teams in it," Meyer said.

In addition to Ohio State's championship, Michigan State finished No. 5 in the nation. Many expect continued progress from Penn State and Michigan, while Maryland should be strong following a third-place finish last season.

For Maryland coach Randy Edsall, it provides plenty of fuel for his team.

"We've got to make sure we do what we can to give our guys the best opportunity to beat those teams," Edsall said. "Ohio State and Michigan State, in terms of what they've been able to do … We finished third in the division and have to keep getting better, keep recruiting, keep working and doing the things necessary. … To me it's gonna be the toughest division in all of college football."

And the conference as a whole got a lift from the postseason when Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin all had marquee victories.

"I think Michigan State has done a lot to help the perception of the Big Ten," Meyer said. "They won the Rose Bowl a year earlier and then they won a big bowl game this year. Ohio State has done our share and then Wisconsin beat Auburn (in the Outback Bowl).

"Obviously it is a one-year cycle and we've got do it for a while, but there is a lot of pressure on the Big Ten to keep it rolling because it did help change the perception."

Extra points

Rutgers is using the spring to try to determine who will succeed Gary Nova at quarterback, but it appears it will be a while before that decision is made.

Coach Kyle Flood said the battle is between sophomores Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig, but it won't be decided before preseason camp.

"Chris Laviano and Hayden Rettig are probably a little bit ahead of Gio (Rescigno) right now," Flood said. "I don't think it will be a race that will get settled this spring. But I think as we get into training camp we'll probably have about 10 days in training camp where we can let that play out between Chris and Hayden. I'm not saying it couldn't be resolved this spring, but I don't think that after 10 practices that we'll have a final decision."

… Meyer was asked Thursday about the murder conviction for Aaron Hernandez, who played for Meyer at Florida.

"My immediate thoughts go to the families involved, and just it was a sad day," Meyer said.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/mattcharboneau

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