The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about the leaked Ohio State postgame video? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
Will Demario McCall see the field again? Let alone still be on the team?
— Jeremy Wherle (@JWherle) December 22, 2020
Neither Ohio State nor Clemson will have any actual need for bulletin-board material.
This is the College Football Playoff, it’s a matchup between two of the most powerful programs in the country and the memory of last year’s battle is still fresh for both sides. If it takes anything extra for the Buckeyes or Tigers to get ready for the Sugar Bowl, they probably wouldn’t be contending for a national championship anyway.
And yet, both programs have wound up giving fuel to the opponent before the biggest game of the season: Once apparently on purpose with Dabo Swinney continuing to snub the Buckeyes, once seemingly on accident with a veteran breaking a team rule by filming a postgame speech.
Now, the truth about the footage of Ryan Day’s fiery words after the Big Ten title game is that there was nothing really inflammatory about them. That was pretty standard for a celebration after a championship with a team getting ready for the playoff, it wasn’t targeted specifically at Clemson — and other than a few choice words, it wasn’t different than Day publicly backing his team against anybody in the nation in his press conference. From that perspective, the actual message isn’t something that Ohio State should really worry about at all.
However, sharing the unfiltered, private conversation is something that will get the program’s attention. The fact that the code of the locker room was violated by a fifth-year senior like Demario McCall who should obviously know better is what will actually bother the Buckeyes. Any punishment will happen behind closed doors, but the wide receiver and kickoff returner is unlikely to be kicked off the team in the midst of a pandemic due to that misstep.
But it’s probably yet another reminder of why McCall has struggled throughout his career to earn the trust of the coaching staff and carve out any kind of consistent role on offense. Injury issues and ball-security problems have been the obvious primary factors over the last few years, but practice habits weren’t far behind — and stepping out of line by filming a moment that was meant to be kept inside the program suggests that questions about maturity were fair as well.
Honestly, it was nice to get a rare glimpse behind the curtain at a team that is clearly fired up for a rematch. But that isn’t likely to save McCall from some early-morning workouts, and it might ensure that his job on special teams remains open for competition heading into the College Football Playoff.
Either way, the locker-room slip-up itself isn’t really going to make a difference in the Sugar Bowl.
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