The Ohio State Buckeyes got a surprising but welcome bit of news on Monday from one of their star players.
Wide receiver Chris Olave announced that he would be returning for his senior season at Ohio State, confounding many who believed he would turn pro.
Olave has a first-round grade from most pundits and had a real shot to go in the back half of the opening round. However, he clearly sees himself as having unfinished business at Ohio State. Plus, he could bolster his draft stock with an outstanding senior season, which is precisely what Alabama’s DeVonta Smith ended up doing in 2020.
Olave was one of the Big Ten’s standout receivers for the second year running in 2020. In seven games, he racked up 729 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Though Olave will be back, a number of Buckeyes will not. Quarterback Justin Fields announced he would turn pro on Monday, meaning Olave will have a new quarterback throwing to him in 2021.
Urban Meyer’s move to the Jacksonville Jaguars will carry a lot of repercussions. Some of them may involve members of Ryan Day’s staff at Ohio State.
Many of those on Day’s staff are holdovers from the Meyer era at Ohio State, and some of them have ties to Meyer even going back to their Florida days. That raises the question of whether the incoming Jaguars coach will return to the Buckeyes and poach some of the names he knows well.
For now, there’s no clear answer. Bill Rabinowitz of Buckeye Xtra reported that Mickey Marotti, the Buckeyes’ strength and conditioning coach, who has known Meyer since they were students at Cincinnati, will remain at Ohio State. Mariotti had worked closely with Meyer at Florida and Ohio State, so there had been some thinking he may be tempted to move to Jacksonville.
Less clear are the futures of some other key staff members with close ties to Meyer. Assistant athletic director for player development Ryan Stamper played for Meyer at Florida, and is actually a Jacksonville native. Mark Pantoni, who runs the Buckeyes’ vaunted recruiting department, is also a Florida native who has worked for Meyer since their Gator days. There were no immediate hints about whether they would follow Meyer to Jacksonville, or if they’d even be offered the opportunity.
Rabinowitz does report that Ohio State does not expect many members of its athletic staff to leave for the Jaguars.
The expectation is that the vast majority of Meyer’s staff will be filled from elsewhere. For instance, Meyer has already added one big name to his staff who has no ties to Ohio State.
The TV ratings for the National Championship between Ohio State and Alabama on Monday night were down compared many past years.
The game drew 18.7 million viewers across ESPN TV (non-streaming) channels, ESPN shared.
The 18.7 million viewers is a lot, but not by college football championship game standards. That’s down 36.8 percent from the 25.58 million viewers who watched the LSU-Clemson game last year. Even both of this year’s semifinal games outdrew the championship game.
This was the lowest-rated championship game since USC-Oklahoma in 2005 (the 2004 season).
The disjointed season, questions about a possible postponement, and lack of hype/buildup because it followed six NFL playoff games, all likely contributed to the low ratings. Ohio State only having played seven games and being unable to build a full resume may have contributed too. Plus, the game became a blowout, which likely hurt ratings.
College football still draws extremely well on TV, but this wasn’t its best season, which was expected given the circumstances.
Ohio State’s lengthy list of absences is bound to have a significant impact on Monday’s National Championship, but one position may be more notable than the others.
Ohio State’s regular kicker, Blake Haubeil, is among those ruled out of the game after testing positive for COVID-19. To make matters worse, backup kicker Dominic DiMaccio has also been ruled out of the game due to health and safety protocols.
The absences of Ohio State’s top two kickers will force them to lean on freshman Jake Seibert. Seibert was the No. 2 kicking prospect in the 2020 recruiting class, but is very inexperienced. He attempted just one field goal all season, a 44-yard try against Indiana that he missed. He has converted all 13 extra point attempts.
The list of absences is very long, but Haubeil and DiMaccio could be particularly huge misses. One has to wonder if the Buckeyes will forget about trying most field goals and change their gameplan accordingly.
Michigan had another disappointing season in 2020, but Jim Harbaugh is not going anywhere. The coach signed an extension with the school this week, and some Wolverines fans have questioned the move. Michigan’s biggest rival seems quite pleased, however.
The Athletic’s Nick Baumgardner reported on Thursday that Harbaugh is finalizing a five-year contract extension with Michigan that will pay him a base salary of $4 million. That is a significant decrease in pay, though incentives could bring the number up to $8 million. Bleacher Report tweeted the news, and the officially account of Ohio State Football was among those who “liked” the tweet.
It wasn’t an accident, either. The person running the account replied to Bleacher Report with a hilarious tweet.
Harbaugh’s overall record at Michigan is 49-22, which is not horrible. The biggest issue has been his failure to win big games, many of which have come against Ohio State. Harbaugh’s teams are 0-5 against the Buckeyes. That has led to him being trolled by Urban Meyer and his family.
Meyer is no longer at Ohio State, but the Buckeyes are still confident in their ability to get the best of Harbaugh.
Ohio State and Alabama are set to face off in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday, but there is a chance the game could be pushed back a week.
According to John Talty and Matt Zenitz of AL.com, Ohio State is dealing with issues related to COVID-19 that have threatened the availability of players. The Buckeyes are concerned they could be without a position group if the game is played on Monday as scheduled.
Discussions have been held between the SEC, Big Ten and College Football Playoff officials about potentially rescheduling the game. No final decision has been made, but the contingency plan is to play the game at Hard Rock Stadium a week later on Jan. 18.
Ohio State’s season has already been significantly impacted by COVID-19. The Buckeyes had a key game against Michigan canceled, which nearly resulted in them not qualifying for the Big Ten Championship Game. The conference then amended its rules to make Ohio State eligible, which helped get them into the College Football Playoff.
Quinn Ewers says he is firm in his commitment to Ohio State.
Ewers is the top-ranked quarterback in the 2022 recruiting class. He originally was committed to Texas, but he decommitted from the school in late October after the program’s shaky start. That led to another recruit dropping. Ewers’ decommitment may have been the catalyst that led Texas to make a coaching change.
Ewers announced a few weeks later that he was committing to Ohio State, as many expected.
Informed on Saturday of the news that Texas fired Tom Herman and that Steve Sarkisian was (at the time) the rumored coach to replace Herman, Ewers told reporters he was sticking with Ohio State.
Texas probably already knew that. They didn’t get rid of Herman and bring in Sarkisian because they thought it would lead Ewers to flip back to the Longhorns; they got rid of Herman and brought in Sarkisian because Ewers dropped Texas.
Ewers, meanwhile, passed for 450 yards and six touchdowns in Southlake Carroll’s playoff win on Saturday. It looks like the Buckeyes are getting yet another stud QB.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney didn’t think his decision to rank Ohio State No. 11 in the Coaches Poll had any impact on the Buckeyes’ mentality. It sounds like it may have played a bigger role than he thought.
Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer revealed Friday after the Buckeyes’ 49-28 Sugar Bowl win that in speaking with current Buckeyes coach Ryan Day and his staff, it was clear that Swinney’s vote motivated the team in a big way.
“I was talking to Coach Day and some of the other coaches, and then something happened,” Meyer said on Big Ten Network. “Disrespect… when Coach Swinney came out and ranked them 11th behind Iowa State and Coastal Carolina, I don’t want to make too much of that, but you try to get your team to practice the best you can. I can tell you, I was told they had the three best practices they’d had in a long time after that.”
Ohio State probably didn’t need a ton of motivation given what happened when the two teams met in last year’s College Football Playoff. It still looks like this mattered, though. It reminded the Buckeyes what was at stake, and made the players feel that Clemson did not respect them. Swinney shrugged off the ranking as an issue after the loss, but perhaps he shouldn’t have. At the very least, it was an unnecessary choice that caused needless drama and gave Ohio State something else to prove.
Ohio State fans let Dabo Swinney hear it after the Buckeyes trounced Clemson 49-28 to win the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Friday night in New Orleans.
Swinney respects Ohio State and thinks they have a talented team, but he was steadfast in his belief that they should not be ranked in the top 10 this season based on only playing six games.
Though Swinney stood by his principles, those principles may have motivated the Buckeyes. At the least, it sure fired up Ohio State’s fans.
After the game ended, chants of “Dabo, Dabo” could be heard from the limited crowd of 3,000 people in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
After a lopsided win like that, Ohio State definitely earned the right to troll. And they sure enjoyed doing so.
Ohio State will have its hands full on Friday night trying to stop Trevor Lawrence and Clemson, but Kirk Herbstreit believes Dabo Swinney has done the Buckeyes a massive favor with some of the things he has said about them leading up to the playoff game.
Herbstreit said on the ESPN College Football Podcast this week that Ohio State head coach Ryan Day should have an “easy job” preparing his team for Clemson. Herbstreit thinks the Buckeyes already feel they should have beaten Clemson in the playoff last year, and now they should be motivated by Swinney saying they don’t belong.
“Ohio State is gonna spin it into, ‘Not only should we have beaten them a year ago and we got jobbed on a few calls but now their coach is saying we’re the 11th best team in the country,’” Herbstreit said, as transcribed by Nick Kosko of 247 Sports. “Coaches are always looking for a reason to get their team collectively fired up and to get angry and Ryan Day has an easy job this time around to get his team ready.”
Swinney has said multiple times that he does not believe Ohio State deserved to get into the College Football Playoff due to their abbreviated schedule. He stood by that again on Monday, saying it is nothing personal and that he has “all the respect in the world” for Day and his program.
That respect isn’t going to mean anything to Ohio State. Not only does Swinney believe they haven’t done enough to earn a playoff spot, but he also ranked them shockingly low in the final coaches’ poll of the year.
Of course, Clemson may now have some bulletin-board material of its own to use. Day made a comment this week about the Tigers possibly stealing signs. It sure seems like there is no love lost between the two sides, which should make for another great game.