When it comes to sports, whether it is professional or collegiate, uncomfortable conversations often get brought up when a team hasn’t been performing to their expectations. These uncomfortable conversations happen when the team or the coach in charge might not have what it takes to win at the highest level.
Right now, we have to ask ourselves is head coach Ryan Day the right guy to lead Ohio State? Before you ask, “why are we having this conversation with a head coach who has a winning record and has produced NFL first round talent since taking over in 2019?”. Well, let’s consider some important statistics. The two in bold are the most notable right now.
- 1-2 against Michigan
- 2 College Football Playoff Appearances (1-2 in those appearances)
- 2 Big Ten Titles (2-0 in championship games)
- 45-5 in first five seasons
The two bolded statistics are the ones I will talk about. Let’s start with the first one which is the College Football Playoff success or lack of. Since the creation of the College Football Playoff, Ohio State has appeared in the playoff four times with two appearances in the title game, winning the first title in 2014. The last time Ohio State made it to the CFP final was 2020, granted that was during the COVID pandemic. In that 2020 CFP final against Alabama, Ohio State was thoroughly dominated. The defense which had been a massive question mark going into the game was picked apart, and as a whole the team just looked outmatched.
In 2019, in which Ohio State had a perfect regular season, some may argue that the team was one of the most complete teams in college football that year. We are talking about a team that was talented across the board, with NFL starters in Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields and Washington Commanders defensive end Chase Young to name a few. Somehow, they fell short in the semifinal matchup to the Clemson Tigers.
This year’s Buckeyes team is similar to the 2019 squad in that they had the talent to potentially win a national championship but minor detours prevented that. Those minor detours are because of coaching. How come Ryan Day with all the talent in his disposal has only two college football playoff appearances but zero national championships to show for it? It’s puzzling to say the least. Last season I don’t believe Ohio State should’ve been in the playoff because the defense was just not good enough, but 2022 and 2019 this team had the talent to do more than what they did.
The second important statistic is Ryan Day’s record against Michigan. After Saturday’s loss, Ryan Day is currently under .500 against Michigan with a 1-2 record. Outside of the only win in 2019, the two losses Day suffered against Michigan he was out-coached in both of those meetings. Social media certainly voiced their opinions on Ryan Day’s coaching performance against Michigan last Saturday.
Whether Ohio State comes back or not, they have been thoroughly out coached by Michigan today.
— Ryan Roberts (@RiseNDraft) November 26, 2022
Just getting outcoached like crazy. Analytics say 100% go for it there on 4th-and-3 down 11. Credit to Michigan. Out-coaching and out-playing OSU. Embarrassing.
— Dave Biddle (@davebiddle) November 26, 2022
Last year it was the defense for the reason why Ohio State lost to Michigan, this year it was a combination of both the offense and the defense. Ryan Day’s offensive play-calling has been questionable all season and it came back to bite him today. His play-calling went from being aggressive in the first half, dialing up deep shots down the field for his Heisman hopeful quarterback CJ Stroud and running the ball between the interior lineman with Miyan Williams and Arizona State transfer Chip Trayanum. Ohio State was controlling Michigan in the first half and had a lead going into halftime.
However, there are two halves to a game in any sport and adjustments have to be made. One team made adjustments while the other did not. Ryan Day went away from what was working for his offense and went to what didn’t work. He went from aggressive play-calling in the first half to conservative in the second half. The amount of bubble screens that Ryan Day ran was maddening, essentially it was an extension of the running game. The game was essentially over when Ryan Day chose to punt the ball on fourth down in the third quarter when the Buckeyes were down by four.
It also shows that Ryan Day doesn’t trust his quarterback and his team when it matters. In a game like yesterday where everything is on the line, you do not hold back at all. Ohio State is loaded at the wide receiver position which is coached by one of the best wide receiver coaches in the country in Brian Hartline, giving those wide receivers a chance to make a play. Ryan Day can air it out with CJ Stroud and his receivers against bottom tier defenses but he can’t do it against top tier competition? Make it make sense.
Now the question everyone wants to know is should the Ohio State Buckeyes fire Ryan day after this season? The answer is no, but his seat should be warming up right now. Ohio State has a standard and the standard are these four things. Beat Michigan, make the College Football Playoff, win the Big 10 championship, win the National Championship. Ryan Day has not accomplished any of these things in the past two seasons. Ohio State has the talent, but do they have the coaching? The gap between Ohio State and SEC powerhouses Alabama and Georgia is wide and the gap that Ohio State had with Michigan has narrowed after Saturday’s loss.
Ohio State has the edge in talent over Michigan but as of now Michigan has the advantage when it comes to coaching. Losing to Michigan back to back seasons is unacceptable. If you can’t beat your longtime rival then the season was a disappointment no matter what the record might be. Ryan Day was able to make the necessary changes on defense and it paid off, but this offseason he needs to make some changes on the offensive side of the ball which starts with giving up play-calling.
When it comes to building a culture, I believe he has done a decent job but he has to do better especially when it comes to preparing for The Game. Ryan Day has to change how he does things at Ohio State and if he doesn’t then he will be without a job at the end of 2023. This is a pivotal moment for Ohio State football and they have to figure out if Ryan Day is the guy for the job or do they have to look in another direction.