Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
This week’s topic: Level of concern after Dylan Raiola’s de-commitment.
This past weekend, Ohio State lost the commitment of highly coveted 2024 quarterback, Dylan Raiola. The Arizona high schooler had been committed to OSU since May, but will now (further) explore all of his options. Raiola has quickly been linked to Nebraska, where his father played — and also where his uncle was the only assistant retained by new Huskers’ head coach Matt Ruhle.
But his future destination is neither here nor there, as Buckeye fans are only concerned with the impending collapse of a once great and powerful empire.
Fans and certain media types had a mini-meltdown upon hearing the Raiola news, forcing Gene and I to immediately jump on Reddit and/or completely reasonable message boards to assess the damage. And boy, are there some takes out there in the atmosphere. One Reddit user accused Ryan Day of intentionally letting Raiola walk because he (Day) is a covert TTUN mole, while another message board user said that losing the 2024 talent is a good thing, because he is actually a 29-year-old insurance salesman merely parading as a high school football player.
With debate and conspiracy afoot, my co-host and I felt obligated to weigh in with our respective, current level(s) of concern.
If we are using a numerical scale here, my overall level of concern – focusing solely on the Raiola/2024 piece – is one (1). And that is only because Railoa appears to be a heck of a football player. Otherwise, you could mark me down for a big, fat zero. Allow me to present my case...
Throw out your (any rational Ohio State fan) feelings about the general health and wellbeing of the team/program – which is about to play in another CFP, BTW – and ask yourself this: What is the one thing you absolutely trust Ryan Day to accomplish? With your life on the line, what is the one thing you would ask him to do, to save your scarlet and gray soul? Sort of a trick question here, because the correct answer is actually two-fold.
And here it is: You (again speaking to rational fans) would trust Day to both identify and develop a high-end QB. If you believed in him for no other reason, you at least have to believe in his ability to produce the next Dwayne Haskins, Justin Fields, or C.J. Stroud. The track record exists, and it is beyond reproach. So why are we collectively freaking out over the lost commitment of a kid who would not start in Columbus until 2025 at the earliest!?
Beyond the trust I have in Day’s ability as a QB whisperer, I would also point out that OSU has time on its side. Like, a lot of it. Because we are still days away from members of the 2023 recruiting class even having the ability to make their early commitments official — emphasis on 2-0-2-THREE. Not the 2024 class, to which Raiola belongs.
By decommitting now, he actually did the Ohio State staff a huge favor. Day, Dennis, and Co. can go back to the drawing board and take an entire year, if needed, to identify and sign their next Heisman candidate QB. And if the whole process take a while? So be it. Because remember: Haskins was a late flip and C.J. Stroud did not even received an offer (from OSU) until three months before he enrolled!
Lastly, Gene, I must bring up the transfer portal. In today’s world of college football, every single player is seemingly available at any time. Quarterbacks have been especially willing to take advantage of this newfound free agency system, and we have seen it work out for the Buckeye as recently as 2019 — albeit under unique circumstances.
There is no doubt in my mind, that if Ohio State is unable to find their desired prospect in an upcoming class, they will just look within the NCAA ranks. Snatching transfers is the new roster construction, and I believe that OSU coaches will be active when they see both a need and a potential fit. There will always be a proven QB looking for better coaching, a better situation, and/or better weapons, and all of those things are consistently offered in Columbus.
At the end of the day, there is no way to frame Raiola’s loss as a net positive. He is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2024 class. But we don’t know what the future holds. Maybe he has a change of heart. Maybe he turns out to be a bust (not wishing for it). Or maybe – just maybe – Ohio State finds another QB elsewhere, and turns them into an absolute stud... Ryan Day has only shown us his ability to do so over and over again, so why doubt the process now?
While it isn’t the end of the world, I don't want to sugar coat it — losing Dylan Raiola is bad. I’ve seen a lot of talking on social media that sounds a lot like someone rationalizing their ex after a breakup. A bunch of ‘Well, he isn’t THAT good anyway’ or ‘Ohio State will wind up with somebody better’ going on online. I’m here to say that while the Buckeyes will likely land on their feet and wind up in a new relationship with someone who loves them very much, Raiola was a catch, and could be the one that got away down the line.
As far as recruiting rankings go, there is no quarterback better in the 2024 class than Raiola. Not only is he the No. 1 QB in the cycle, but he is the No. 1 recruit overall regardless of position. It seemed almost too good to be true for Ohio State to have the top quarterback in the class committed to go along with the latest commitment of Jeremiah Smith — the No. 1 wide receiver and No. 2 overall player in 2024 — and as it turns out, it was too good to be true.
The reasons for Raiola’s de-commitment aren’t entirely clear, but most of it seems simply out of the Buckeyes’ control. Far be it from me to defend Ryan Day in any matter, as I would pack his bags for him if Mike Vrabel came calling, but my podcast co-host does have a point. Quarterback recruiting and development is far and away what Day does best. If that, mixed with playing at one of college football’s premier destinations with one of the biggest brands on the biggest stage wasn’t good enough, then I'm not sure what Day and his staff could have done to convince him to stay. If family ties at Nebraska and/or NIL were the reason for his departure, Ohio State is shit out of luck.
As far as my concern level goes, I would say I’m at about a four. Most of my concern stems not from Raiola’s de-commitment specifically, but the way things have been trending for this Ohio State staff as a whole, especially in the 2023 recruiting cycle.
We know the shortcomings on the field in recent years, but the recruiting from this staff for everyone not named Brian Hartline has seemingly dipped. Larry Johnson is a legend of the game, but Ohio State is about to whiff on all three five-star edge rushers they seemingly had a good shot with. Tony Alford has landed one premier running back since J.K. Dobbins in 2016, and the Buckeyes are without a RB commitment in 2023. Cornerback recruiting has been a whirlwind as programs try to poach OSU’s top commits before signing day. As things stand, Ohio State has the No. 7 class in the country, and it doesn’t look like its going to get much better before signing day. ‘
Obviously Raiola is a 2024 guy and is unrelated to this cycle, but it is a concerning trend nonetheless. In my opinion, it is time to purge the last of the Urban Meyer holdovers from the program if they aren’t getting the job done anymore. This is probably a topic for another day, as Day is the one mainly in charge of recruiting the quarterbacks and this doesn’t apply to him, but this is more at play for my concern level of Ohio State recruiting than anything else. Raiola’s de-commitment is bad, I just think there are other issues at play that feel more pressing at the moment.
The Buckeyes will find another QB in 2024 and be fine, but there is a lot at stake this offseason in Columbus, and I'm not sure I trust a handful of the current guys in charge to figure it out.