COLUMBUS — Some goals never change at Ohio State.
The Buckeyes are obviously already planning to continue their dominance in The Game over rival Michigan. They are working toward a fourth consecutive Big Ten title. And the motivation to win another national championship might never be stronger than after the near-miss this season coming off the loss in the Fiesta Bowl.
But those are just the basics for the program. And while checking off two of those three goals might be plenty satisfying for most teams, as Ohio State turns its attention to the new year, it will do so intent on making sure it completes the trifecta.
“It wasn’t good enough in the end,” Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said on Saturday night. “We were right there. It wasn’t like we didn’t [fight] or our guys didn’t play hard or our guys didn’t execute well. We didn’t make big plays. We did all of those things and we just came up short in the end.
“We were right there all the way to the end. That’s the way it goes.”
So, how can the Buckeyes write a different ending? Lettermen Row will have plenty of time to break down the on-the-field work facing Ohio State, so instead we’re starting 2020 by helping craft a few more traditional resolutions that might help the program.
Work on weight goals
The Buckeyes have the best strength coach in America in Mickey Marotti, and there’s no question about the physical ability of one of the most loaded rosters in college football. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to grow — or even a few pounds to be dropped in a case or two. Massive tackle Dawand Jones has already done a solid job transforming his body and slimming down a bit as he prepares to compete for a starting job next year. In an interesting twist, the favorite for the right tackle job is still devouring calories and trying to add weight with Nicholas Petit-Frere aiming to unleash his five-star potential. By August, there’s no question Ohio State will have everybody in even better physical condition — and the incoming early enrollees should be prepared for a life-changing nine months of workouts.
Do chores at Woody, build bigger Ohio State trophy case
Keeping up around the house is important, and all those individual trophies and Big Ten championships accumulating around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center can create some clutter. With the Buckeyes heading into another season as the favorites in the conference and with a legitimate shot to return to the College Football Playoff, it would probably help if they squeezed in time for a little hobby work by building a new trophy case or two. Justin Fields has already been a Heisman Trophy finalist and will probably be the odds-on favorite throughout the offseason. Is Shaun Wade returns, he’ll be a top pick for the Thorpe Award. The returning talent on the offensive line could make it the leader for the Joe Moore Award, and Chris Olave might find himself in the mix for the Biletnikoff Award. Basically, the Buckeyes should just prepare for more hardware now instead of once it’s been delivered.
Forgive refs, selection committee — but don’t forget
The anger hasn’t subsided yet for the Buckeyes, and honestly it’s hard to believe that it ever will after a handful of truly awful calls from an SEC officiating crew robbed them of a shot to play for the national championship. In the interest of self improvement, though, Ohio State will eventually need to forgive those referees and all the others that apparently never saw people holding Chase Young last season. The Buckeyes can show the same compassion for the confused members of the College Football Playoff selection committee after yet another baffling series of decisions every week leading up to the final rankings — when beating a third consecutive top-13 opponent and winning the Big Ten title by a double-digit margin somehow wasn’t good enough to stay No. 1. Ohio State doesn’t have to forget, but forgiveness is healthy for the spirit.