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Buckeye Bits: Jack Sawyer opts of out senior season, calls for Big Ten and NCAA transparency, more

All of the latest Ohio State news from around the beat and beyond

NCAA President Mark Emmert News Conference Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

What a crazy week it has been. We’ve made it to yet another Friday in pandemic land, but it will be a much more somber weekend in the Midwest knowing there will be no Big Ten football on the horizon this fall.

Here at Land-Grant Holy Land, we are working behind the scenes to come up with some new and exiting content to keep you entertained for the next few months, and at least attempt to fill the void left by the absence Buckeye football. We are certainly just as upset as you all are that Ohio State will not be taking the field, but we must all try to get through these tough times together. Adapt to the new mantra:

New information is swirling around the college football world every day as those involved in the sport from the athletes, parents and coaches to the general sports and media world anxiously await word on what comes next. Everything still seems incredibly up in the air at this point, and the notion of “clarity” has not exactly been at the forefront of any recent decisions.

With that being said, let’s get to all of today’s headlines as we look to close out one of the most dizzying weeks in the history of collegiate athletics.

From around Land-Grant Holy Land...

Buckeyes still getting a visitor despite dead period, offer 2022 OT
(Caleb Houser, LGHL)

The NCAA has extended the recruiting dead period yet again, but that doesn’t mean it is entirely illegal for recruits to make visits to their prospective schools. Players are allowed to visit any college campus they would like, much like any other student can, but are not permitted to have contact with coaches and staff or tour any of the football facilities. This weekend, 2022 tight end Bennett Christian will make the trek from Georgia to Ohio to get a look at Ohio State’s campus. Christian listed the Buckeyes in his top three back in July alongside Penn State and Tennessee.

Play Like a Girl podcast: We’re still not over it
(Tia Johnston and Meredith Hein, LGHL)

Much like the rest of Buckeye Nation and college football fans around the globe, Tia and Meredith are still processing the Big Ten’s cancellation of the fall season. On this week’s Play Like a Girl podcast, the duo discuss their initial reactions to the announcement, the positives and negatives of the controversial decision, and why you shouldn’t be blaming Ohio State’s leaders for this outcome.

There is still a team in Columbus to support
(Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL)

If you need a distraction from the harsh realities of this week, may I suggest turning your attention to the NHL playoffs? The league has done a phenomenal job making its return to play via a bubble in Canada, and there has some really entertaining and exciting action thus far. If you’re looking for another team in Columbus to back outside of the Buckeyes, the Blue Jackets are an incredibly easy squad to root for, and they just evened the series with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday with a 3-1 victory. Their next game is scheduled for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EST — barring another game going to five overtimes beforehand.

From around the gridiron...

On Friday afternoon, Buckeyes defensive end commit Jack Sawyer announced he will be opting out of his senior season at Pickerington North in order to prepare to enroll early at Ohio State. While Ohio high schools await a final return-to-play decision by Gov. Mike DeWine on Tuesday, Sawyer has no interest in waiting for a verdict. Instead, he will be training in hopes of suiting up for the Buckeyes in the event of a spring Big Ten season. Sawyer is Ohio State’s highest-rated commit in the school’s loaded 2021 class, coming in as the No. 3 player in the country and the top-rated in-state prospect in the cycle.

The inside story of college football’s wildest week ever

If you got lost in any of the madness of the past few days, the ESPN staff put together an incredibly detailed timeline of the events, data and discussions that have led us to this point. As its discussed in this article, while the Big Ten and Pac-12 ultimate came to the same decision, they arrived there through wildly different processes. As many have rightfully criticized since the announcement was made, the Big Ten has provided a stunning lack of transparency, leading to this letter from the parents of Iowa football players:

Many of Ohio State’s football players posted their preseason photos on social media on Friday, just adding to the sadness of a season that will not be played this fall. You really feel for guys like Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis, who could have been potential first-round NFL Draft picks last season but elected to return to Columbus to chase a national title, and those like Jonathon Cooper and Justin Hilliard, who were hoping to make a splash in their final year of eligibility.

Jay Bilas, who has long been outspoken in his fight for the student-athlete, joined the national outcry for transparency and improved leadership from the NCAA. I’ve had many conversations in these past few days about what the association actually does for its member institutions, and I can’t seem to find any answer. It really does appear like the only reason the NCAA exists is to exploit these college athletes, suppress their voice, and make sure they don't see a dime out of a billion dollar industry. Mark Emmert is a bad leader, and the association as a whole is worthless and vestigial.

I don't view myself as an epidemiologist or a professional map-reader of sorts, but it would appear to me that this is uh... bad? Someone with a degree in maps make this make sense.

From around the hardwood...

Some of our attention now naturally turns to college basketball, which, if the country progresses on its current path in handling this virus, is the next domino to fall in terms of postponing/cancelling the season. We have time to figure out how to make things work, but as we’ve seen this past week, it appears as though the leaders within collegiate athletics don't actually start to plan or think about actually doing anything until its too late. The NCAA can’t possibly afford the monetary losses of a second-straight cancelled NCAA Tournament, and I'm sure the Big Ten would like to see a season as well...

Everyone needs to learn from their mistakes if we want a college basketball season
(Connor Lemons, LGHL)

Speaking of planning ahead and making sure we have college basketball this year, Connor took a look this past week about what exactly that looks like. As he wrote:

The onus will fall on the NCAA, too. They’ve had five months to work on football, and that is now crumbling. Consider the next three months an extension. Three more months to devise a plan to protect athletes while also giving them an opportunity to step back if they feel the need, but without punishing them if they choose to step away during this hectic time.

Even if we do everything right, the season still may not happen. COVID-19 isn’t playing by our rules, and we can’t help that. But the “wait and see” strategy didn’t work out too well for football, so let’s get to work and see if we collectively can salvage college basketball.

From everywhere else...

As a completely unbiased fan, I say debut Ohio State at No. 1 in the AP Poll and keep them there until somebody beats them. Who says no?

Can someone explain to me why the Phoenix Suns got invited to the NBA bubble if going 8-0 in the return to action STILL wasn’t good enough for them to make the playoffs?

The rest of the college football world is trying to figure out just what the hell is going on, the SEC is arguing and complaining about which opponents are on their schedules.

(Now, to be fair, Missouri having Alabama and LSU added to their schedule while LSU gets to play Mizzou and Vandy as their crossover games seems uhh.. biased.)

Will the cancellation of Ohio State football play a role in the presidential election?