Nothing makes college football fans lose their minds like the whims of teenagers. And so it was this week, when five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola de-committed from Ohio State, denying the Buckeyes of the top 2024 prospect in the nation. People all over message boards and social media went bananas.
This wasn’t unexpected. Every time a player decommits from a program, that school’s fans play the role of scorned lover and many take their frustrations out in the most inappropriate ways. Some direct their venom directly at the recruit — which should never happen.
But others act like it’s some kind of shortcoming by the head coach. The #FireDay crowd’s voice got louder this week because a high school kid changed his mind about leaving Arizona to play college football in Ohio. The same head coach who was at the helm for his May commitment was suddenly the problem.
I shouldn’t have to explain that this is a complicated time for college football recruiting. We don’t know all the backdoor promises and deals that are going on in regard to name, image, and likeness (NIL) behind the scenes. It might not be a coincidence that it’s been a hot topic in OSU circles since before Raiola decommitted and Gene Smith, Day, and the OSU coaching staff may have suspected this was in the works.
But it’s fair to say that whatever happened with Raiola likely had little to do with Day at all. Every college coach faces decommitments and transfers. It’s a common part of the business.
Raiola’s uncle is Nebraska’s offensive line coach, and Matt Ruhle has created a buzz around that program since being named head coach, which is hardly Day’s fault either.
I saw one post on Twitter blaming Day for 2023 quarterback Lincoln Kienholz committing to Ohio State, as if that somehow scared Raiola off. These top prospects rarely lack the confidence of believing they will win the job wherever they go, and fans probably shouldn’t want any that don’t have it.
There was a lot of angst about Quinn Ewers transferring to Texas, but it’s not hard to imagine that whoever takes snaps for Ohio State will put up better numbers than Ewers during his career. Similarly, Raiola at Nebraska or wherever else may have an excellent football career, but I doubt the Buckeyes will be hurting at the position with Justin Fields emerging as an NFL stud (even without an offensive line) and C.J. Stroud about to go in the first round of the next draft.
As long as Day is here, the quarterback play should remain at a high level, especially given the talent at wide receiver that the Buckeyes are attracting to Columbus. In fact, the No. 2 player in the 2024 class, Jeremiah Smith, committed to Ohio State before Raiola decommitted.
I’m not going to be concerned about the starting quarterback until one of them shows me I should be.
Look, there might be some valid reasons to hold the opinion that Ryan Day shouldn’t be Ohio State’s head coach, although we’ll certainly have more data about that in a couple of weeks. But it seems silly to call for his job over a high school kid decommitting.