The Ohio State Off-season
Let’s recap. Urban Meyer: not a coach. Tate Martell: all about the U. Greg Schiano: left for the NFL. Recruiting class: outside of the top ten. Justin Fields: eligible immediately. Ohio State has had an eventful offseason, to say the least, and there is a very long time before kickoff against Florida Atlantic on August 31st. Let’s catch you up on what you have missed so far.
College Football Playoff
The last month of 2018 did not start off kindly to Buckeye Nation. On December 2nd the College Football Playoff Committee left Ohio State out of the semi-finals and instead took Notre Dame and Oklahoma – both of whom failed to match the level of play of the other two semi-finalists Clemson and Alabama. Hindsight is 20/20 but the outcome of the semifinal games bolstered the Buckeyes argument to be included as one of the top teams in the country. Also, it led to many people asking if eight team tournaments are the way to go. Being sent to Pasadena for The Rose Bowl is about as good as consolation prizes get (but still wasn’t as sweet as it should have been) but nonetheless served as another chance to play on one of college football’s biggest stage.
The Rose Bowl opened with some program altering news; Meyer would be coaching his last game and Ryan Day would be taking over the helm. Other than his short stint as interim while Meyer was on suspension, Day has no head coaching experience. This is a first for an Ohio State new head coach since Paul Bixler in 1946. Day was great in his three-game stint but following the path and charting new territory is not the same thing. Still, expect a great first year from Day as he is ready. Though, trepidation is a normal feeling to have when a team replaces one of the best coaches in college football.
If the Rose Bowl wasn’t drama enough, reports of Fields’ transfer began heating up and Columbus was his preferred destination. Martell, heir apparent to Haskins, welcomed all competition and reminded everyone he was a former five-star quarterback. Martell also made it clear he had a great relationship with the coaching staff. Martell’s comments were met with skepticism, but a Martell-Fields quarterback battle sounded great. No such luck, Fields announced that he was coming to Columbus on January 4th. It took Martell three days to announce he was transferring; he would eventually choose Miami, where things probably haven’t went the way he thought they would.
Fields, the nation’s top quarterback from the 2018 recruiting class, applied for a hardship waiver as while he was at Georgia, he was a victim of a verbal racial attack. Georgia dismissed the player from the team. Immediate eligibility for Fields via hardship waiver drew the ire of some, including Chris Fowler of ESPN, who while not speaking of the specifics of the case but in general terms of transfer rules said “it’s a Pandora’s box, I think you could always go to whatever tribunal exists, and make whatever case you want, to get the result that you desire”. The NCAA granted Fields immediate eligibility. Ohio State’s early betting odds to win the National Championship rose from 12/1 to 8/1.
14th is not a typical recruiting class ranking for Ohio State, a stalwart of the top 10 on signing day. After highly rated recruits Jackson Carman and Doug Nester spurned the Buckeyes, a feeling of panic set in about recruiting in a post-Meyer world. The class is small; not due to recruiting but rather to the number of available scholarships. This was always going to be a small class regardless of who the head coach was. Not counted in the rankings, Fields transfer greatly bolsters the class.
When you catch your breath after the shock of seeing Ohio State with the 14th rated class and look a little closer you see that Day and the staff were able to secure Ohio’s top player in Zach Harrison, Garrett Wilson (the number two WR in the country out of Texas) and Harry Miller, a five-star Offensive lineman from Georgia. 4 star Enokk Vimahi from Hawaii showed Ohio State can go anywhere and get a states best player. This class is not anything to balk at.
February 26th: The NFL Combine has 10 former Buckeyes showing their stuff
April 13th: Ohio State Spring Game
April 25th: Could Nick Bosa and Dwayne Haskins go one-two?
Now that you’re caught up it’s important you know; they served eight tons – yes sixteen thousand pounds – of nacho cheese at the Horseshoe last year. Do what you will with that information.