Ohio State’s loss on Saturday to Michigan is going to sting for quite a while. Even though the losses the previous two seasons, and really any loss to Michigan hurts, the 30-24 defeat at the hands of the Wolverines hits a little differently. It all starts with coaching on both sides and there are a number of other reasons why a few days after the loss, it is still hard to stomach.
As a fan of the Buffalo Bills, I already have to watch one coach that soils himself in big games, I don’t need to see the same when I watch the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, any time Day has to coach against Michigan or in the College Football Playoff, he channels his inner John Cooper. Day has now lost the last three meetings with Michigan and he is 1-3 in the College Football Playoff. Something needs to change or a change needs to be made.
What makes Day’s failures in big games so infuriating is he talks so tough heading into games against Michigan or CFP games. How his teams are going to be playing with an edge and how he is going to open things up. Then when the games actually kick off, nothing close to what he says his teams need to do actually happens. I get there is some coach speak in the interviews, but it just feels like Ohio State teams tend to come out flat when it matters most. How this continues to happen is extremely puzzling.
Now Day has some tough decisions to make in the offseason. The first thing he needs to do is kick special teams coach Parker Fleming to the curb. Fleming’s coaching contributions definitely don’t match his huge salary. If we are being honest, if Fleming’s salary was $0, he still would be overpaid. Fleming isn’t needed on this staff and his salary can actually be used for things that will actually help the team.
Another big decision Ryan Day will have to make is what to do with his play-calling role with the team. After last season it sounded like there would be more of a collaboration between Day and offensive coordinator Brian Hartline. I highly doubt anything like that has happened. It feels like Day is too arrogant to actually utilize Hartline when it comes to the offensive game plan. There are too many similarities when it comes to the play-calling from previous years to think Day is accepting much input from Hartline.
Jim Harbaugh’s suspension
While it would have been great for Ohio State to beat Michigan with Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines on Saturday, Day and the Buckeyes couldn’t even beat interim head coach Sherrone Moore. Props to Moore for not being a blubbering mess in any post-game interviews and cursing every chance he got. He has come a long way since two weeks ago.
For as many jokes as Buckeye fans got off since the Michigan cheating scandal dropped last month, the only joke on Saturday was the Ohio State performance. While further punishment might end up coming down from the NCAA, as of now, all the cheating scandal resulted in was Jim Harbaugh getting a three-week vacation before the Big Ten Championship Game and College Football Playoff.
If there was every a year for Ohio State to make Michigan eat a loss, this was the year. Had the Buckeyes won, Michigan might have had some conversations about where their future was at head coach. Even though the Wolverines and Harbaugh were talking extension before everyone became aware of who Connor Stalions was, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see Harbaugh make a serious push to head back to the NFL coaching ranks. Now it’s going to be hard to imagine Harbaugh leaving after three straight Big Ten titles and three straight trips to the College Football Playoff.
Kyle McCord had an unenviable task heading into this season. Prior to McCord being named starting quarterback, the previous Ohio State quarterbacks were Justin Fields and C.J. Stroud, who both went on to be first-round picks in the NFL Draft. Nobody was expecting quite the same production as Fields and Stroud, Buckeye fans were just hoping he wouldn’t lose the team any games.
Even though there were some hiccups with consistency this season, McCord was playing confident heading into The Game after Ohio State beat Michigan State and Minnesota by a combined score of 75-6. Then early in Saturday’s game, McCord threw a brutal interception that set Michigan up in prime position to score their first touchdown. As if that wasn’t tough enough to stomach, McCord’s interception late in the fourth quarter with Ohio State driving clinched the game for the Wolverines.
Unless some really tough decisions are made, Kyle McCord will be back as starting quarterback for the Buckeyes. That’s not a bad thing! McCord did have some strong moments this season, with the highlight being the comeback late against Notre Dame. Hopefully the loss to Michigan will make McCord even hungrier, and the year under his belt as the starter will make him a better leader. Who joins McCord on the quarterback depth chart remains to be seen and will come into clearer view over the next two months.
Marvin Harrison Jr. and TreVeyon Henderson
With the loss to Michigan, Saturday felt like the last time we’ll see Marvin Harrison Jr. and TreVeyon Henderson play for Ohio State. There is nothing for either player to gain by playing in a bowl game unless the Buckeyes somehow back their way into the College Football Playoff. It makes no sense for Harrison and Henderson to not declare for the 2024 NFL Draft since Harrison is likely to be the first receiver taken in the draft, and Henderson needs to capitalize on his strong finish to the season since the shelf life for running backs is so short.
What is really tough to stomach for both Buckeyes is they weren’t able to beat Michigan during their outstanding careers. During the previous two decades, the question players faced during the Buckeye careers wasn’t if they were able to beat Michigan, but how many times they beat the Wolverines during their careers. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case lately since Michigan has won the last three meetings.
If we never see either play for Ohio State again, thanks for the great memories. I was at the Tulsa game when Henderson ran for over 270 yards as a freshman. If only the running back hadn’t had to deal with so many injuries, he would be in the conversation with Archie Griffin, Ezekiel Elliott, and others as the greatest running back in school history.
Harrison definitely can be in the best wide receiver conversation since he has done things no other Buckeye receiver has done. Not only did Harrison break David Boston’s school record of 14 100-yard receiving games by gaining 118 receiving yards against the Wolverines to notch his 15th game of at least 100 receiving yards. Harrison is also the only Ohio State receiver to record two seasons of at least 1,000 yards receiving. It was a helluva ride to watch.