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 Ohio State and the continued efforts from the Buckeyes to try to salvage a season? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
Austin, do you think this is about the fall or about increasing the likelihood of a January/February season? The chances for fall are over, but if the big ten hears these voices maybe they get their act together for winter season?
— Nathan (@gnilly97) August 16, 2020
There’s nothing wrong with fighting passionately for a cause as important to Ohio State as a football season.
Nobody is asking the Buckeyes to abandon hope, which is needed now more than ever in these unprecedented times.
And if these elite athletes and coaches simply accepted no for an answer, they almost certainly wouldn’t even be in the positions they are now for one of the sport’s true powerhouse programs.
So, the battle wages on for the Buckeyes, spilling over into social media, letters to the Big Ten offices and interviews on national networks. It’s probably an unwinnable proposition, which is largely an unfamiliar feeling for the Buckeyes. But Ohio State is almost certainly not going to win this war when numerous sources around the league have continued to indicate to Lettermen Row that the presidents and commissioner Kevin Warren aren’t going back on their decision to postpone the fall schedule.
The end result of the fighting and flexing, though, might just be to set the Buckeyes up to win the next war as coach Ryan Day continues to put together a plan for a season that would open in January and still give his team a shot to unleash its sky-high potential.
“I’m disappointed we had to make this decision as early as we did, but I respect our medical people, I respect the guidance of our leadership and we’ll move forward,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said last week. “We’ll try to deal with it from here.
“Up until [Tuesday], [spring] was not an option for me relative to my mindset. But [coach Ryan Day] and I just spent some time talking about the possibilities and I’m embracing it. I’m trying to come up with a strategy for the spring, and I think it’s more realistic for me today than it was yesterday — or even this morning. I want to give our kids a chance to play. That’s my battle. I lost this battle, but now I have another opportunity to have another battle. That’s how I’m looking at it. I don’t quit, I’m not quitting.”
Clearly Justin Fields wasn’t ready to concede the battle yet by asking for the season to be reinstated, and the tight-knit group of Ohio State parents also stood in support of giving their sons an option to play this fall. That effort should be applauded, if for no other reason than trying to pry more definitive answers from Warren about why the Big Ten didn’t simply delay — particularly when saliva testing advancements arrived just a few days after the decision was made.
It’s a certainty that the conference was only following medical advice, and multiple sources have indicated that Ohio State’s own doctors had raised concerns about the viability of playing right now even with the success of the de facto bubble at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Even reconsidering the path forward and trying to salvage games by late September is now more challenging, since the pause on workouts and testing last week would likely force the Buckeyes or other Big Ten programs into a new two-week quarantine rather than going straight back to practice.
The conference could have bought itself more time, which is what Ohio State wanted. The outcome might not have been any different, and perhaps the Big Ten will wind up vindicated — which seems distinctly possible based on the positive cases at Oklahoma, the outbreaks at North Carolina and the early feedback around campus at Alabama as full student populations return.
And all of that means the attention will be shifting to the next opportunity to play. Ohio State continuing to prove how powerful it is as a national brand while also having its leaders like Gene Smith and Ryan Day putting the winter/spring framework in place means it can lead that conversation when the time comes.
The counterpunch at the moment is extremely unlikely to change the fall fight. But the Buckeyes will be ready to throw their weight around for the next round, and that’s where they should see the payoff.
Miss any previous editions of Question of the Day? Catch up right here.