With Christmas just a couple weeks away, it’s time to put the finishing touches on our wish lists. Since we already had to watch Ohio State lose to Michigan in football for the third year in a row, we have already gotten a lump of coal in our stockings, so the rest of the gifts we receive this year have to be things we asked for, right? Maybe if we all wish for special teams coach Parker Fleming to be fired then we finally can be rid of the overpaid joke of a coordinator.
If you don’t know what scarlet and gray wish you are going to ask Santa Claus for this year, we are going to give you a couple ideas, which could act as a springboard into some even more creative gift wishes. Maybe you have a specific candidate in mind for athletic director to replace Gene Smith in 2024 when Smith retires. Then there is the mystery of who is going to start at quarterback for the Buckeyes next season. Even though it doesn’t look like we’ll get a solid answer on next year’s starter any time soon, we’d be happy to hear who your preferred quarterback is. Or maybe you want to see the terrific Ohio State women’s basketball team in the Final Four. There are countless areas you go to when it comes to your Ohio State Christmas wish.
Today’s question: What is your Christmas wish for Ohio State?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: A run to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the men’s basketball team
Following Saturday’s 83-80 loss to Penn State, Ohio State’s men’s basketball team is 8-2 ahead of Saturday’s game in Atlanta against UCLA as part of the CBS Sports Classic. Even though the loss to the Nittany Lions is tough to swallow, it could be a really good thing in the long run. The Buckeyes were in control of the game before they weren’t able to close out the game down the stretch. Hopefully, if Ohio State is in a similar situation later in the season on the road in conference play they’ll learn from the loss to Penn State and won’t suffer the same fate.
Even with the loss to the Nittany Lions, this year’s Ohio State men’s basketball team has been fun to watch. Following a solid freshman season, Bruce Thornton has made a huge leap early in his sophomore year and is establishing himself as the leader of the team. Thornton is one of four Buckeyes averaging double figures in scoring so far this season, leading the team with an 18.5 points per game average. Head coach Chris Holtmann has sung the praises of Thornton’s growth this year, and it’s easy to see why when you watch Ohio State play.
Along with Thornton, Roddy Gayle Jr. has taken on a larger role this season in his second year in Columbus. Gayle’s minutes have doubled and he is averaging nearly 10 more points per game as a sophomore, currently sitting second on the team with a 14.3 points per game average. Minnesota transfer Jamison Battle can take over any game with his shooting, while Penn State transfer Evan Mahaffey has been better of late after a slow start this season.
Really, I just want a reason to be excited about Ohio State in the NCAA Tournament after the first weekend of the annual event. It feels like it has been far too long since the Buckeyes have reached the Sweet Sixteen. Plus, Holtmann is a really likable guy who can get the program rolling once he shows he can win more than just one game in the tournament in a season. It feels like a deep run into the tourney could help restore Ohio State as one of the better programs in the country.
Is asking Santa for a trio of men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and football national titles too greedy? If so, I will make a wish for something a little more specific and immediate. I want Ryan Day to name a 2024 starting quarterback in January. I don’t really care who it is at this point, Devin Brown, Lincoln Kienholtz, Air Noland, Cameron Ward, Michael Pratt, whoever. I just don’t know if this team — or this fanbase — can go through another offseason of not knowing who “the guy” will be.
Now, I don’t want Day to just pick a guy to pick a guy, I want there to be a demonstrably correct pick so that as the team heads into spring practice able to focus on building an offense around the starting quarterback. At this point, I think it is unlikely that the Buckeyes bring in a QB from the transfer portal unless someone undeniable enters after his bowl game (which could be the case for Pratt). So, for now, it looks like Brown will be the one getting the majority of snaps in bowl practice and will start in the Cotton Bowl against Missouri.
So, if that means that he is also likely to be the starter in 2024, so be it. It’s not what I would have wanted as recently as two weeks ago, but if he is — in fact — the best option, I don’t want to see Day wasting anytime with the dog and pony show trying to give everybody a chance to “compete” for the job when it’s already a foregone conclusion. The last two times that the Buckeyes have done that (2015 with J.T. Barrett and Cardal Jones and this year with Brown and Kyle McCord) it felt like nobody was ever prepared enough for the season.
Some other items on my list include:
- Ryan Day allowing Brian Hartline (or any other offensive coach) to call plays.
- Eliminate the Special Teams Coordinator position and make James Laurinaitis the full-time linebackers coach.
- Thank Corey Dennis for all of the work he did during OSU’s run of legendary quarterbacks, but allow him to move on and bring in a QB coach who is able to truly develop players, allowing Day to focus more on big-picture issues, rather than micromanaging that room.
- I love Larry Johnson, but I think it is probably time for him to retire.
- The Buckeyes have to get upgrades at offensive line via the portal. That doesn’t necessarily mean new starters (although, I would love that), but they at least need to fill out the depth with quality, experienced players.
- Depending on what happens with guys leaving early for the NFL, I think running back, defensive line, and linebacker are also major needs that must be addressed via the portal.