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On Friday afternoon, former Ohio State wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. announced his retirement from the NFL after spending 14 seasons in the league with six different teams. With Ginn retiring, we have to look back on one of the toughest moments in Ohio State football history. After Ginn returned the opening kickoff of the 2007 BCS National Championship Game 93 yards for a touchdown. In the celebration immediately after the score, Roy Hall accidentally slid into Ginn which resulted in Ginn suffering a sprained ankle and not being able to play the rest of the game.
What if Ted Ginn Jr. hadn’t gotten injured after the opening kickoff against Florida in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game? Would Ohio State have been able to defeat the Gators?
No. The final score likely would have been closer than 41-14, but Ohio State wouldn’t have beaten Florida, even with Ginn at 100% during the game. Even though the Buckeyes did have to change their game plan without Ginn, they still had a lot of talent on the field without the speedy wide receiver. The problem is that Florida’s defense was playing on another level that night in Tempe.
It’s hard to make anything happen on offense when you don’t have the football in your hands. Ohio State had the football for just over 19 minutes in the game. It’s hard to make anything happen when your opponent is doubling you up on time of possession. Eventually your defense is going to become gassed in a close game, and this game wasn’t close in the second half, as Florida took a 34-14 lead into the halftime break.
The biggest issue for Ohio State in the game was that Troy Smith spent December on the awards ceremony circuit, winning the Heisman Trophy and a number of other awards. Smith was phenomenal during the regular season for Ohio State, but after hearing how great he was while Ohio State had over a month break in between the game against Michigan and the BCS title game, I feel like Smith might have lost some of his focus on the game. Of course a tough task was made impossible before Smith could even step foot onto the field because of the injury to Ginn.
It’d be nice to think that Ohio State could have beat Florida if the Buckeyes were at full strength, but the difference was coaching. This is the game where Urban Meyer really put himself on the map, and how funny things come full circle and five years later Meyer was coaching Ohio State.
Circling back to the retirement of Ginn, the Glenville product was actually recruited by Ohio State as a cornerback. Luckily Jim Tressel and his coach staff gave Ginn the opportunity at wide receiver during his freshman year. The risk paid off, as Ginn caught 25 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns. Ginn did most of his damage as a punt returner, averaging 25.6 yards per return and recording a Big Ten record four punt return touchdowns.
2005 saw Ginn take bigger strides as a wide receiver, catching 51 passes for 803 yards and four touchdowns. The Buckeyes would go on to go 10-2 and defeat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, setting the table for a huge 2006 season for the Buckeyes. Ginn lived up to the hype, catching 59 passes for 781 yards, and adding two punt return touchdowns. The junior earned second-team All-America honors.
Even though he was injured in the BCS National Championship Game, the Miami Dolphins still selected Ginn with the ninth pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Ginn wasn’t terrible with Miami, but he also didn’t live up to the expectations as a top-ten draft pick. The biggest problem for Ginn was dropped passes, which eventually resulted in Miami trading Ginn to the San Francisco 49ers for a fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Ginn would play three seasons for the 49ers. While Ginn wasn’t quite as active in the passing game, he began to establish himself as one of the most dangerous returners in the NFL. Late in the 2011 season Ginn was injured, and replacement Kyle Williams’ mistakes during the NFC Championship Game were a big reason the 49ers lost the game. The next season San Francisco would make it to the Super Bowl before losing to the Baltimore Ravens.
Ginn would make it back to the Super Bowl the next season with the Carolina Panthers, in his first of two stints with the team. Ginn caught five touchdown passes in 2013 with the Panthers, and would return in 2015 after a year with the Arizona Cardinals to catch a career-high 10 touchdown passes. After stops with the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears to close out his NFL career, Ginn would finish with 412 catches for 5,742 yards, and 33 touchdown receptions. With seven return touchdowns, Ginn totaled 40 touchdowns in his NFL career.
While many will remember the 2007 BCS National Championship Game when talking about Ginn, he was one of the most electric Buckeyes to ever take the field. Ginn’s talent on the field was cemented even more by the fact that he was able to spend 14 years in the NFL, which is something not a lot of players can do. When talking about great Buckeyes, there’s no question that Ted Ginn Jr. should be part of that conversation.