From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about players to watch this upcoming season. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”What If?” articles here.
No matter how happy you are in your life, no matter how “alpha” you claim to be, part of being human is having regrets, disappointments, and things that you would go back and change if the universe afforded you the opportunity to do so. While we here at Land-Grant Holy Land do not have the ability to reverse time, as part of our “What If?” Week, we asked you want you would do if you could change a bit of Ohio State football history.
Earlier this week, we asked you to remove the NFL Draft eligibility from a 2022 Buckeye (other than C.J. Stroud) and bring him back to the 2023 team and erase one of OSU’s most painful losses of the 21st Century. So, let’s dive into the results. If you would have gone in a different direction, let us know in the comments below.
Question 1: If you could have brought back one player from last year’s football team other than C.J. Stroud, who would it be?
I think that this is absolutely the correct answer to this question. With all due respect to Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who should have been the best wide receiver in the country last season, should he not have been injured, adding Paris Johnson Jr. back in at left tackle would have gone a tremendously long way to solidifying what is a shaky offensive line.
Granted, I believe that the addition of Josh Simmons helps sure things up a bit, I would far prefer to have Johnson protecting Kyle McCord (or potentially Devin Brown)’s blind side with Josh Fryar on the right and Matt Jones and Donovan Jackson on the inside (and, I’m guessing Jakob James at center.
To be honest, even if Paris goes — as he should have as the No. 6 overall pick — if Dawand Jones and Luke Wypler had stayed (Jones went in the fourth round and Wypler in the sixth) would have been tremendous bonuses for the 2023 squad.
Question 2: If you could change the outcome of one Ohio State football game from this century, what would it be?
Now don’t get me wrong, the pain of the loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals last season is real and valid, but I think this question is being impacted by a bit of recency bias. While I have said many times that I think Ohio State was effectively one play away from winning the national title in January (whether that play was Marvin Harrison Jr.’s injury or the missed last-second field goal attempt), in reality, they had a whole other game they would have needed to win to take home the title.
And while. I do believe that they would have done so, that’s a pretty big risk if I am going to be using my one shot at rewriting history on the game. Therefore, I would have gone with one of the national title game losses, so I could have guaranteed another Buckeye national title.
It’s no secret that I have never been the biggest Urban Meyer fan in the world, but I don’t think that I would erase the 2007 Championship Game loss, because the ripple effects of changing that game could lead to Urbz never coming to Columbus, thus erasing the Buckeyes’ 2014 national title.
So, I am left to pick between the 2008 BCS Championship Game and the 2021 College Football Playoff Championship Game. While losing to Alabama in the weird COVID year still sucks, to me, the answer from here is easy, and it’s the loss to LSU. Having lived in the southeast since 2006, I remember the pain and anger of having to deal with back-to-back losses in BCS title games to SEC teams, and if I could, I would change that.
Not only for my own personal mental health but also because of the image and reputation that it begat for the program moving forward; something that I think it still deals with today. Also, bonus points, because it means that Michigan Man Les Miles never would have won a national title.