On paper, Ohio state clearly appeared to have one of the top three college football teams heading into the 2020 season, along with Alabama and Clemson. Before the Big Ten called off its fall sports and sports betting took the odds out of college football altogether, most punters gave Ohio State the second-best odds behind Clemson to win the national championship.
The Buckeyes’ offense had the potential to be the best in the country, led by Heisman Trophy leader Justin Fields, a star-spangled offensive line, two great receivers in Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson and an intriguing graduate transfer back to Trey Sermon. . Ohio State’s defense was less secure, but the Buckeyes still had no shortage of talent on this side of the ball, including one of the best defensive backs in the country to Shaun Wade, seven top-class linebackers. and many potential stars like Zach Harrison. , Tommy Togiai, Josh Proctor and Sevyn Banks.
The state of Ohio wasn’t just loaded with potential star players, it was also loaded with great leadership – Ryan Day said the Buckeyes “probably could have had 11 or 12 captains” – and was also motivated than ever to search for a title after his heartbreaking college. Football playoff semi-final loss to Clemson last year.
Even after winning 13 games in his first year as a head coach, Day thought this year’s Ohio State team had a chance to be even better, which makes the heartache not being able to play this fall even deeper.
“I’ll be moved if I start to think about it,” Day said Wednesday. “What I told the team the other day is the truth: as a player you work your whole life and as a coach you work your whole life to have the opportunity to coach a team like this. This team is special. It’s special because he’s talented. It’s special because he has leadership. It’s special because of the character. It could have been in a single team.
“I will certainly never forget the team from last year. It was the first time as a head coach, and what they did was great, but there was just something about this team that had it. He had it. They came back hungry after their last game on the pitch. They were determined. And this quarantine, this virus was not going to stand in their way. ”
Fields had a similar feeling about this year’s squad.
“Of course at the team level we want to start by beating the team in the north and winning a Big Ten championship, and then we want to win the first playoff game and win the national championship. So I think that’s what the team is focused on the most right now, and really, we’re getting better every day, ”Fields said last week before the season was postponed. “I think we all see the opportunity that we have on the table in terms of coming back and being able to play and compete for a national championship.
“This team is special. It’s special because he’s talented. It’s special because he has leadership. It’s special because of the character. It could have been in a single team. ” – Ryan Day in the 2020 Ohio State Football Team
Now, however, that opportunity has been taken off the table for this year’s Ohio State team – at least for the fall, and quite possibly for good.
While the Big Ten hatches a plan to hopefully play in winter or spring, that’s far from guaranteed. Even though the Big Ten are able to play soccer during the spring semester, this might not be the opportunity to compete for a national championship; that will depend, in part, on the ability of the ACC, the Big 12 and the SEC to follow through on their current plans to play in the fall or if they also end up stinging through 2021.
And even if every conference ends up playing from winter to early spring and the college football playoffs are moved accordingly – now the best case scenario for the state of Ohio if it has to play football in the 12’s. next months – we are still unlikely to do so. never see Ohio State’s full 2020 roster take the field for a game.
While no Ohio State player has yet opted for a potential spring season, it would come as a surprise to most if Fields plays, given he’s already established as one of the top prospects. of the 2021 NFL Draft. If Fields makes what many see as a smart business decision by skipping the spring and focusing fully on NFL prep, Ohio State’s next season will be played with a quarterback. unproven who has never started a match before.
Wade’s dad Randy told ESPN’s Marty Smith Thursday that his son “isn’t playing in the spring,” likely leaving the Buckeyes without their biggest star in defense. Many other upper-class members of the Buckeyes who also stand a chance of being picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, like Olave and right guard Wyatt Davis, among others, will also have to weigh their options.
As talented as the state of Ohio is, the Buckeyes will be a contender for whatever they are able to compete for whenever they can play games afterwards. Even if they lose some important players, they will still have plenty of four- and five-star rookies – including perhaps the early entrants in the recruiting class of 2021 even though they play in the spring – who can’t wait to be the next man.
But even under the best of circumstances, a shortened season played in the second half of the academic year won’t be the same as a full season with a full roster played in the fall. And knowing what this season could have become makes it even more painful for everyone in the Ohio State football program and their fans to have this season ripped off.
“Once in a lifetime” can be hyperbole, and it’s easier to say that a team could have won the national championship when you can never go wrong. But even the highest expectations seemed to be within the realistic reach of this Ohio State team, and that’s what makes the Big Ten’s decision to shut things down so hard to accept, even if Day will. try to keep his players looking to the future instead. than to dwell on what they have lost.
“It’s going to be difficult for a lot of people, there’s no doubt about it. It hurts, ”Day said. “They feel like something has been taken away from them. But at the same time, we’re really focusing on what’s to come. “